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3.41  ·  Rating details ·  876 ratings  ·  212 reviews
The prize-winning, bestselling author of Gingerbread; Boy, Snow, Bird; and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a vivid and inventive new novel about a couple forever changed by an unusual train voyage.

When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment--and to get them out of her house. Setting off
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 6th 2021 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  876 ratings  ·  212 reviews

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Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trains, surreal
What does it mean to be seen by those you value, and what befalls you when you become invisible to them? Helen Oyeyemi’s Peaces is a skilful and unsettling fable that is difficult to pin down, slowly allowing the existential angst to seep into the reader. Known for brilliant fairy tale recreation that perfectly embodies the genre in a literary sense, here Oyeyemi slips comfortably into train-mystery aesthetic that feel like Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes meets surrealist horror that just so happe ...more
Apr 21, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I listened to “Peaces” by Helen Oyeyemi and found it very odd. I can’t say I enjoyed it, although I finished it. It’s a strange story. I can’t say I’d recommend it.
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3 ½ stars

“Talking to strangers can be riskier than it is rewarding; even people who know each other well talk at cross purposes and derange each other’s perceptions.”

Peaces is the type of freewheeling novel that fully embraces its own weirdness, taking its readers along a madcap sort of adventure, one that is guaranteed to be equal parts amusing and confounding. What drew me to this novel, zany premise aside, was that it would take place on a train. It j
Jessica Klahr
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a wild (train) ride. I had trouble mentally squaring off with Oyeyemi’s last book Gingerbread but Peaces was just grounded enough, while still fully encapsulating her enviable imagination, to be accessible. We follow Otto and his partner Xavier and their pet mongoose on their non honeymoon honeymoon, a gift from Xavier’s aunt. They board a train headed to a destination unknown. The ticket divulges no clues and the compartments are symboled instead of numbered or lettered. Ther ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it did not like it
Not every book is for every reader, and I was absolutely not the right reader for PEACES. I should just accept that my love for Helen Oyeyemi’s previous novel GINGERBREAD is a fluke, and also I’m not sure she ever apologized for the abhorrent transphobia of her novel BOY, SNOW, BIRD, so why am I even still reading her? I clearly deserve the vast unpleasantness that was this reading experience.

PEACES is framed as a whimsical train journey where bizarre and inexplicable things happen, so I though
Jan 08, 2021 marked it as to-read
i fucking love mongooses
To do justice in describing this novel, you'd need Helen Oyeyemi's way with words, and I don't have that, so this review can't do justice. It is hilarious in a way that surprises, and before you can finish laughing it catches you with some deeply emotive passage that makes you want to hug anyone who is nearby. Buried inside of this whimsical tale of Otto and Xavier on their non-honeymoon honeymoon along with their mongoose Arpad XXX (that's the 30th) aboard a fantastical train called "Lucky Day" ...more
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
this is a 4.5 on the helen oyeyemi scale (which puts it at a solid 6/5 in the field overall)—she hasn't beaten mr. fox as a technical achievement or white is for witching as a visceral one, and she may never, but this is far and away the most rewarding puzzle of her more recent work. a good helen oyeyemi leaves you confused at the end but in possession of a complete toolkit. mr police, she gives you all the clues.

the synopsis of this reads like a wes anderson film and in pretty much any other au
Jun 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq
How even to describe this book? It's as mysterious, addictive, and strange as most of Helen Oyeyemi's work but this time packed with even more queer characters than ever! Xavier and Otto Shin are given tickets to a train called The Lucky Day for their sort-of honeymoon. They step aboard with their pet mongoose, Arpad XXX, without knowing their route or destination and by a mishap leave half of their luggage behind on the station. The Lucky Day is the permanent residence of a reclusive musician, ...more
May 14, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive, dnf
Do you want to know about a mongoose, or why it must travel before middle age? I think it has something to do with becoming narrow minded. Well, I didn’t need to know that, but at least this book confirmed my belief that I can’t read this author. Abandoned.
May 29, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

this was weird
Apr 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 4.5, maybe?

I was so nervous after really bouncing out of Oyeyemi's prior book and having some difficult conversations about BOY SNOW BIRD that this wouldn't go well. Isn't that always the way, when you hope that the experience of a favorite author's new work will match up to the ones that made them a favorite in the first place? Wonderfully, PEACES is Oyeyemi in fine form -- with all the wonder and frustration that entails.

One thing that strikes me is how many of her novels rely (yes, fai
Apr 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: europe, 2021
I had literally zero ideas about this book ahead of time. I am generally an Oyeyemi fan and requested it from the library.

On one hand, this is one of her more linear books, I think. (Not that that's saying much of anything at all.) On the other hand, it's very hard to pinpoint all that is going on here. There are many themes, some having to do with seeing or unseeing others (those we let into our life, those we cut out or ignore or try to erase all remembrances of), being seen or unseen ourselve
May 21, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Totally Confusing

Maybe someday I’ll read the novel again and be totally entertained by it. Right now I’m confused. I looked up a few reviews and found that many were confused and didn’t quite enjoy the book. They also praised her prose. I’ll praise the prose but found the novel totally confusing so therefore not enjoyable. But you never know.
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Apr 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, arc
What is it like to edit Helen Oyeyemi’s novels, I wonder...
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is fucking weird and I’m into it.
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Otto and Xavier, with their pet mongoose Arpad, go off on a non-honeymoon honeymoon train tour aboard The Lucky Day. Yeah, let's start there. Already the contradictions of what is / what is not are being positioned. So, you know that the train ride will be just as much an adventure for Otto and Xavier as they are for the reader. And once we're on the train, moving through the countryside, those juxtapositions continually forced me to ask more and more questions around what is really going on. Mo ...more
Sarah Cavar
May 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
2.5, rounded up because the writing was excellent. This was a real disappointment, given that Gingerbread is one of my all-time faves. There were certainly moments of humor, beauty, and generative absurdity, but unfortunately those were far outnumbered by not-quite-successful Wes Andersonisms. Lots of cute magic, not so much plot.
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
Need to think some more on this one but I love the direction Oyeyemi is going in terms of themes. I just love the spooky surreal atmosphere she creates and this was no exception.
Davidson Ajaegbu
Jun 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
My first thoughts were "What am I reading?" then it turned to "What did I just read?" and "Why did I read this?"

I stop myself from giving bad reviews for books I don't enjoy and I'd do same here by simply positing that the book wasn't meant for me.
Cindy C
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, readin2021
I love everything Helen Oyeyemi writes.

Is it because she loves k-dramas, chinese poets, certain TYPES OF BRITISH things, fairy tales and teapots (amongst other things).

Her last 3 books have been my favorites: Gingerbread, What is Not Yours is Not Yours, and now Peaces.

My logical mind has little idea what is going on in Peaces. But its a limitation of the reader, and not the work. I read it too fast b/c I was enjoying the ride and now I need to read it over and over agai. With each subsequent rea
Lisa Martin
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
It took me awhile to get into this book. The beginning felt a bit like a fever dream as strange scenarios and people were introduced and then seemed to recede away as Xavier and Otto fumble their way through the Lucky Day. I felt lost at first, to be honest, and I think in other situations or moods I might have stopped at around the page 40 mark and tried something else.

I stuck with it and eventually all the pieces started coming together, the characters started to really click for me, and the
Heather M
Apr 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, surreal
3.5/5, i will absolutely need to reread this to fully vibe with it; for such a short book it took me a while to finish. it's challenging and i had little idea what was going on, but it's pieced together with so many warm, funny, and sexy moments that i really wanted to see these characters through. oyeyemi is such a lovely writer she makes me want to sit with the surrealism when it's not normally my bag at all.
May 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
I am loath to say it because I loved What is Not Yours is Not Yours so much, but maybe I am not a huge fan of Oyeyemi's aesthetic. I was so smitten by that short story collection, the strangeness of her character-driven fantastical, disjointed fabulation, that I assumed she would become one of my favorite writers. But I did not love Gingerbread; I found White is for Witching; and now Peaces has left me cold. There's a meta-textual detachment in Oyeyemi's use of the fantastic that does not appeal ...more
Ellen H
Jun 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
WTF? I have no earthly idea what it is I just read. It had no context whatsoever for me. I can't wait to discuss it in Summer Camp and see what I missed. I have a slight sense that it was referential to something, or maybe a million somethings, but I have no idea what. And the forced whimsy -- maybe not forced, if one knows what the reference is? -- was too much for me. Mongooses (mongeese)? Why? And that's just one of a dozen things that I just. didn't. get.

Look, I have as much sense of humor
Bill Hsu
Jun 16, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: dogeared
I hate to express reservations about a novel as charming and entertaining as this. How can I resist the setup, with the quirky multiracial queer boy couple, boarding an antique tea-smuggling train with their mongoose? But this gets very cutesy in a Wes Anderson-esque way (and I love some of Anderson's films). Thanks in part to the train, the narrative has more momentum than in Oyeyemi's last novel Gingerbread. There's no shortage of her trademark clever gestures and multiple POVs, but I keep wis ...more
Jun 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very confusing for the first half but beautiful prose, and then suddenly things start to make sense and I couldn’t put it down. Push through the confusion! It’s worth it!
David Dunlap
May 05, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Newlyweds Otto and Xavier have been given a honeymoon trip by train, destination unknown. They arrive at the station on the appointed day for departure, along with their mongoose Ápád, and...

Who really cares? I found I was not much interested in the family tree of mongooses (mongeese?) -- and, fascinating as it may have been for Otto, I didn't much care that his former lover gifted him with fabulous underwear, labeled for each day of the week.

The fact that the author uses a rather obscure Emily
Danae Pritchard
May 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’m never fully convinced I’m smart enough to understand a Helen Oyeyemi book but that’s exactly the way I like it.
May 11, 2021 rated it did not like it
I have no idea what I just read, but I do know that I did not have a good time.
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Helen Oyeyemi is a British novelist. She lives in Prague with an ever-increasing number of teapots, and has written nine books so far.

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“You run the romantic gauntlet for decades without knowing who exactly it is you're giving and taking such a battering in order to reach. You run the gauntlet without knowing whether the person whose favour you seek will even be there once you somehow put that path strewn with sensory confetti and emotional gore behind you. And then, by some stroke of fortune, the gauntlet concludes, the person does exist after all, and you become that perpetually astonished lover from so many of the songs you used to find endlessly disingenuous.

[Otto Shin]”
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