Literary Criticism

Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


“Telling it Slant”

Critical Approaches to Helen Oyeyemi

Chloe Buckley is an Associate Lecturer and doctoral student at Lancaster University, specializing in postmillennial gothic fiction, children’s literature and the child in gothic.

Sarah Ilott is a Research Lecturer/Senior Lecturer at Teesside University, UK. Her main research and teaching interests are in postcolonial literature and genre fiction, particularly comedy and the gothic.

This collection develops a body of research around critically acclaimed author Helen Oyeyemi, putting her in dialogue with other contemporary writers and tracing her relationship with other works and literary traditions. Spanning the settings and cultural traditions of Britain, Nigeria and the Caribbean, her work highlights the interconnected histories and cultures wrought by multiple waves of enslavement, colonization, and migration.

This collection describes how Oyeyemi’s work engages in an innovative way with Gothic literature, reworking the tropes of a Western Gothic tradition in order to examine the fraught process of establishing identity in a postcolonial context. It demonstrates ways in which Oyeyemi is also a trouble-making feminist voice, employing feminist strategies to rewrite genres, parody literary forms, and critique the characterization of ‘woman’ in literature. Finally it suggests that Oyeyemi’s oeuvre marks a new direction in postcolonial studies as she writes within and about the former colonial centre of Britain, whilst foregrounding enduring colonial legacies that are referenced through the physical and psychological trauma associated with migration, displacement, racism, and contested national identities.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-790-2
Hardback Price: £45.00 / $54.95
Release Date: April 2017
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-074-3
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: September 2020
Page Extent / Format: 978-1-84519-790-2
Illustrated: No


Chloe Buckley and Sarah Ilott

1. Witches, Fox-Fairies, Foreign Bodies: Inflections of Subjectivity in White Is for Witching and Mr Fox
David Punter

2. Gothic Children in Boy, Snow, Bird, The Opposite House, and The Icarus Girl
Chloe Buckley

3. ‘Nobody ever warned me about mirrors’: Doubling, mimesis, and narrative form in Helen Oyeyemi’s fiction
Natalya Din-Kariuki

4. ‘Why do people go to these places, these places that are not for them?’: (De)constructing borders in White Is for Witching and The Opposite House
Katie Burton

5. Sensory signification in Juniper’s Whitening and Victimese
Nicola Abram

6. The Monsters in the Margins: Intersectionality in Oyeyemi’s Works
Anita Harris Satkunananthan

7. ‘The genesis of woman goes through the mouth’: Consumption, oral pleasure, and voice in The Opposite House and White Is for Witching
Sarah Ilott

8. ‘People can smile and smile and still be villains’: Villains and Victims in Mr Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird
Jo Ormond

9. As white as red as black as … beauty, race and gender in the tales of Helen Oyeyemi, Angela Carter and Barbara Comyns
Helen Cousins

Chloe Buckley and Sarah Ilott

List of Contributors

This volume brings together nine essays by English and literature scholars from the UK and Malaysia, who analyze the work of British novelist, playwright, and Nigerian immigrant Helen Oyeyemi from feminist, postcolonial, and Gothic studies perspectives and in the context of other authors, theorists, and mythologies, including feminist writers Barbara Comyns, Hèléne Cixous, Angela Carter, and Margaret Atwood; the fairy tale tradition and traditional storytelling from China and the Indian Subcontinent; the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock; gothic literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; and Yoruba mythology and Caribbean folklore. They discuss White Is for Witching, Mr. Fox, Boy, Snow, Bird, The Opposite House, The Icarus Girl, Juniper’s Whitening, and Victimese.

Reviewed in Fantastika, Issue 2:

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