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The Death of Vivek Oji

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  21,751 ratings  ·  3,664 reviews
What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Riverhead Books
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Zoe There is some sexually explicit content, and some of the themes are a bit mature in their nature. I would say it's suitable for 15+. Their other book …moreThere is some sexually explicit content, and some of the themes are a bit mature in their nature. I would say it's suitable for 15+. Their other book PET is good for anyone over 12 years old if you're looking for something for younger folx!(less)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,751 ratings  ·  3,664 reviews

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Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I can’t tell you how this book sliced through me. The back of the book says, “Dazzling” and that’s the only word good enough for it.
The Artisan Geek
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
------------------ BOOK REVIEW -----------------

My video review is up on my YouTube channel :)

------------------READING VLOG-----------------

Stayed up till 4:30 AM to finish this beauty and have been crying for a good half an hour over it. What a joy it is to know that people such as Emezi are in this world. I know how it is often said that books transform you, but I've never had that feeling as strongly as I had with this book. Not only is their prose phenomenal, but Emezi has an ex
This book made me bawl my eyes out 😭 it was so good and so sad and so damn beautiful. Easy 5/5 for me. It reminded me quite a bit of A Little Life in a way, with the gorgeous thought provoking writing and similar themes. It takes place in a town in southeastern Nigeria, and the story opens when Vivek’s mother opens the door and discovers her sons body wrapped in a colorful fabric. This is an incredibly moving story about friendship and family and identity and I just want to give Vivek the bigges ...more
looking for great books to read during black history month...and the other eleven months? i'm going to float some of my favorites throughout the month, and i hope they will find new readers!

Freshwater was a very stylized bit of emotional brutality whose jaggedy flow i loved but totally understand why other readers might not. this one, though—this is how you win book awards, court book clubs, AND make your goddamned name.

this is an undeniable stunner.

you’ve read the title of this book, so i don
Angela M
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it
3+ stars.
One of the strengths of this novel is the writing, really beautiful prose and images. “If this story was a stack of photographs- the old kind, rounded at the corners and kept in albums under the glass and lace doilies of center tables in parlors across the country ...” I was struck by the recurrence of photographs, both imagined as above and the actual ones reflected in Vivek’s funeral program “ The program was full of pictures of Vivek as a small boy, a baby; nine of them looked like
ELLIAS (elliasreads)
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-books, i-own
excuse me while i go lie in bed and wallow in my misery and broken thoughts clutching this beautiful book close to my heart....

i didn't cry because my tear ducts are too dry.

Twitter | Bookstagram | Youtube |
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It was the clearest terror and pleasure I had ever known.

Have you ever wondered what it felt like finishing a novel before it was dubbed a “Classic?” Upon turning the final page in Akwaeke Emezi’s The Death of Vivek Oji I had the feeling I was finishing something that deserves to be important for a long time and could likely be a modern Classic. The follow up to their incredibly imaginative and important 2018 novel Freshwater--which set such a high bar I didn’t think possible to clear--and the
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I often wonder if I died in the best possible way..."

In The Death of Vivek Oji, Akwaeke Emezi through her beautiful writing brings to life a protagonist, who dies with a broken heart and painfully misunderstood by all the ‘loved’ ones.

"...exactly how difficult it was to dig his own grave with the bones of his son..."

The story depicts the many times Oji`s parents, particularly the mother misses to understand and accept the true self of their child. The always-distant father and overly-religio
Larry H
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Death of Vivek Oji , Akwaeke Emeze's newest novel, is easily one of the best, most powerful books I’ve read all year.

One day in Nigeria a woman finds the body of her son, Vivek, on the porch of their house, wrapped in colorful fabric. It appears he has been beaten to death.

Vivek’s parents are grief-stricken, but while his father accepts that these things might happen in a country torn by violence, his mother is desperate to understand what happened to her son. She saw him that morning and
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, literature
4 stars for a coming of age story in present day Nigeria. Vivek Oji is a young man whose body is discovered by his mother one day at her doorstep. His body has been wrapped in fabric. The story of his life is told in flashbacks, from 2 different points of view: Vivek and Osita. Osita is his cousin and best friend. They grow up together and are like brothers. However, Vivek is subject to spells(possibly epilepsy) and enters Osita's room when Osita and his girlfriend are intimate. Osita loses his ...more
Elyse  Walters
No spoilers...

If I had read this book earlier...I might have written a - more descriptive review....[they have been done]. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel - when it doesn’t need reinventing.
So, at this point - I can only add my agreement to all the five star reviews.
Many previous readers took the words right out of my mouth:
....Brilliant-beautiful- devastating-heart wrenching- powerful - exceptional.....
....One of the best books this an extraordinary talented author.
Nilufer Ozmekik
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
After being mesmerized by each chapter of Freshwater, I dived into the opportunity to read another brilliant work of the author!

Reading this book made me feel like purchasing a ticket to a photography exhibition and as soon as I took my first step to the gallery, I got flabbergasted by the detailed, meticulous, realistic portraits exhibit the cultural mosaic, traditions, daily lives of people’s lives from Nigeria. It criticizes harsh intolerance and questions sexual identity exploration and self
Diane S ☔
Aug 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I wasn't immediately drawn into the novel, didn't feel like I really liked the character of Vivek. The writing was terrific though and I did like the setting of Nigeria. I kept reading and soon was immersed in a complicated storyline, Vivek was a complicated character. Nigerian culture left little room for those who were different. What happens though, to those who no longer want to pretend to be something they are not? That is the story, a story we know from the beginning has a tragic end.

A str
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
"If nobody sees you, are you still there?”

I cannot decide how I felt about this book. On the one hand, it was an incredibly well written, important and emotional novel. On the other, it was too short to get fully invested, had too many characters and not enough of the most complex and engaging one- Vivek.

We begin the story with the end, the death of Vivek Oji. The book then backtracks and tells the story of Vivek from birth to untimely death. Throughout, there are deeply relevant discussion
Loved the representation and overall messages within The Death of Vivek Oji. We learn at the beginning of the novel that Vivek has died, so the rest of the book details both what led to Vivek’s death and the aftermath. The two characters who elicited the most emotion for me included Osita, Vivek’s high-spirited yet reserved cousin, and Kavita, Vivek’s overprotective yet ultimately understanding mother. By the end of The Death of Vivek Oji, we witness the effects of family secrets and how non-acc ...more
The Death of Vivek Oji tells a compelling story of identity, belonging and grief. As a cultural portrait of Nigeria—in all its complexity, contrasts and frictions, it is particularly good.

In that respect, this novel covers a surprising amount of ground, darting from city to small town to rural village, taking in a range of cultural and religious traditions, small details of daily life and larger ones of conflict and intolerance. The titular Vivek’s mother is Indian, and her social circle consis
— Massiel
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, read-in-english
Y'all please take a moment of your life and read this book.

P.S. I would sell my kidney and all my organs if Akwaeke decides to write a memoir book.

Buddy read with Adriana✨
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
...and I thought: (85 percent into the book) yes, I agree this book is sad but I am not crying or even feeling that emotional. Those who said who bawled their eyes out must be overreacting.


And then.... the last two chapters happened.

And then.... my bed was a pool of tears I was drowning in.

Seems like I am overreacting a bit here but no, it actually happened and it happened at wee hours. It was so heartbreaking and it was so difficult to read about what the characters were going through.

Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nigeria, 2020-read
With their new book, Emezi has written an emotional drama, a work of social criticism, and a very effective suspense novel that revolves around an actual death, but also around another mystery: The dynamic of human relationships, in all their flawed glory. Growing up in Aba, Vivek Oji is the beloved son of a Nigerian father and an immigrant mother from India, and as we learn from both the title of the book and the first sentence, the young man dies - but how and why? This question drives the nar ...more
I'm bawling and I can't stop. This was so beautiful—so bittersweet: its every word hurt my heart.

And every day it was difficult, walking around and knowing that people saw me one way, knowing that they were wrong, so completely wrong, that the real me was invisible to them. It didn’t even exist to them.
So: If nobody sees you, are you still there?

Akwaeke Emezi writes the most lyrical, poignant prose, and I can't get their words out of my head. Ultimately, the death of Vivek Oji contained mul
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
(okay so like no one is going to talk about the incest in this one? no one? no one's going to talk about the sexual relationship between cousins that their peers seem to accept, or at least not challenge? no one? just me? okay)

This book definitely has its merits, okay, and I like Emezi's writing (a couple months ago I read Pet and really enjoyed that) is very solid. However, this book left me feeling underwhelmed. I enjoyed the process of unwrapping the layers of the story as we jump around the
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

What happens to a person denied the space to be themselves? What does it look like to choose yourself? What is it to be, to exist, even against a multifaceted external denial? What can bloom when a person is enveloped in love? Akwaeke Emezi’s brilliant novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, asks these essential kinds of questions and more.

Early in the novel we are introduced to the tragedy that is its namesake. We are then taken on an incredible journey through an
Beautiful and brutal. Tender and heartwrenching. Hopeful and hateful. Akwaeke Emezi touched my soul with her evocative storytelling. A stunning tale of tolerance, acceptance, friendship, and grief. This is the story of Vivek, A young Nigerian looking to discover who they are in a world that does not want to truly know them. The story starts with Vivek’s mother discovering their dead body wrapped in colorful cloth at the front door of the family home. The story then bounces around in time and bet ...more
After Vivek Oji's mother finds the dead body of her son on her verandah wrapped in a piece of cloth, she can't stop asking questions. Who left him there? How did he die? She searches his room for hints, she questions all his friends but they all claim to know nothing. Her husband and friends try to console her but she can't give up trying to find out what happened to him.

Vivek was a shy and gentle boy. Born in Nigeria to an Indian mother and a Nigerian he was close to his cousin Osita and found
The Death of Vivek Oji is an enthralling novel. Akwaeke Emezi's lyrical prose is by turns evocative, sensual, and heart-wrenching. With empathy and understanding Emezi writes about characters who are grappling with grief and otherness, as well as with their gender identity and sexuality.

“Did it feel like terror? More like horror, actually. Terrible sounded like it had a bit of acceptance in it, like an unthinkable thing had happened but you'd found space in your brain to acknowledge it, perhap
Roman Clodia
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Osita wished, much later, that he'd told Vivek the truth then, that he was so beautiful he made the air around him dull.

A gorgeously emotive and tender novel that left me aching with compassion for the characters and also angry that so much unnecessary anguish can be caused by something as fluid as gendered and sexual identities. This is definitely a book which divides the generations: the traditional parents, the less fettered children.

Emezi writes with understanding throughout and manages
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive, audio
At the beginning of this book set in Nigeria, Vivek’s body is discovered by his mother on her doorstep. Most of the rest of the book flashes back to Vivek’s brief life, his friends, family and secrets. The writing was very good and the exploration of patriarchy, sexuality and gender identity was interesting. Despite the fact that there were some characters who I felt added nothing to the story, I would read this author again.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Take special care if you decide to listen to “The Death of Vivek Oji”. Because the story takes place in southern Nigeria, the names of the characters require attention. Also, it’s written in Nigerian dialect, which provides the story an authentic tone, but requires, again, care upon listening. This is a special story that requires special attention to details.

Saying that, I loved the story and the audio production. All the narrators are fantastic. The chapters are broken out with different narra
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I was always going to be a sucker for this kind of story. This is probably my favorite type of sub-genre to read: a character-driven novel with and underlying mystery. I just really like the discovery of long-held secrets while slowly uncovering information about each character. And the mystery element running through the entirety of the plot keeps me unable to stop turning the page.

The book is about, obviously, The Death of Vivek Oji, a character living in modern day Nigeria. There’s flashback
Ron Charles
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
In 2018, Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel arrived like a revelation. With its incantatory prose, “Freshwater” disrupted conventional ways of thinking, pushing readers outside the dualistic frameworks of body and spirit, male and female, psychotic and sane. The story describes the harrowing experiences of a young Nigerian woman who contains several distinct selves. But for Emezi, a non-binary trans person, the disparate voices that deliver this story are not merely a sophisticated narrative technique. ...more
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“Some people can't see softness without wanting to hurt it” 26 likes
“I'm not what anyone thinks I am. I never was. I didn't have the mouth to put it into words, to say what was wrong, to change the things I felt I needed to change. And every day it was difficult, walking around and knowing that people saw me one way, knowing that they were wrong, so completely wrong, that the real me was invisible to them. It didn't even exist to them. So: If nobody sees you, are you still there?” 20 likes
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