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Parasol Against the Axe

A Novel

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NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR BY ELLE, THE SEATTLE TIMES, LITERARY HUB, THE MILLIONS AND MORE!

“A metatextual masterpiece.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Oyeyemi writes here as an heir to Calvino or Borges…A dizzying, dazzling romp.” Kirkus Reviews

The prize-winning, bestselling author of Peaces and Gingerbread returns with a novel about competitive friendship, the elastic boundaries of storytelling, and the meddling influence of a city called Prague


In Helen Oyeyemi’s joyous new novel, the Czech capital is a living thing—one that can let you in or spit you out.

For reasons of her own, Hero Tojosoa accepts an invitation she was half expected to decline, and finds herself in Prague on a bachelorette weekend hosted by her estranged friend Sofie. Little does she know she’s arrived in a city with a penchant for playing tricks on the unsuspecting. A book Hero has brought with her seems to be warping her mind: the text changes depending on when it’s being read and who’s doing the reading, revealing startling new stories of fictional Praguers past and present. Uninvited companions appear at bachelorette activities and at city landmarks, offering opinions, humor, and even a taste of treachery. When a third woman from Hero and Sofie’s past appears unexpectedly, the tensions between the friends’ different accounts of the past reach a new level.

An adventurous, kaleidoscopic novel, Parasol Against the Axe considers the lines between illusion and delusion, fact and interpretation, and weighs the risks of attaching too firmly to the stories of a place, or a person, or a shared history. How much is a tale influenced by its reader, or vice versa? And finally, in a battle between friends, is it better to be the parasol or the axe?
Praise for Parasol Against the Axe

“Bold, lucid, and experimental. . . Oyeyemi delightfully channels a Borgesian literary lunacy. . . This is a metatextual masterpiece.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Oyeyemi writes here as an heir to Calvino or Borges…A dizzying, dazzling romp.” —Kirkus Reviews

"Like so much of Helen Oyeyemi’s acclaimed work, Parasol Against the Axe defies a simple logline—which, of course, is to its credit as an immersive, variegated study of a city and the people within...you’ll want to do all you can not to tear your eyes from the page.”—Elle

“Oyeyemi’s language, along with her ability to drop clues and invite questions without clear answers, makes the reading experience a world unto its own. . .The pleasure of Parasol Against the Axe lies in figuring out what is real and what is imag­ined—and if, in Oyeyemi’s world, the differ­ence even matters.” BookPage
© Katerina Janisova
Helen Oyeyemi is the author of seven novels, including Peaces, Gingerbread, and Boy, Snow, Bird, and of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Winner of the PEN Open Book and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Oyeyemi was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. View titles by Helen Oyeyemi

About

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR BY ELLE, THE SEATTLE TIMES, LITERARY HUB, THE MILLIONS AND MORE!

“A metatextual masterpiece.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Oyeyemi writes here as an heir to Calvino or Borges…A dizzying, dazzling romp.” Kirkus Reviews

The prize-winning, bestselling author of Peaces and Gingerbread returns with a novel about competitive friendship, the elastic boundaries of storytelling, and the meddling influence of a city called Prague


In Helen Oyeyemi’s joyous new novel, the Czech capital is a living thing—one that can let you in or spit you out.

For reasons of her own, Hero Tojosoa accepts an invitation she was half expected to decline, and finds herself in Prague on a bachelorette weekend hosted by her estranged friend Sofie. Little does she know she’s arrived in a city with a penchant for playing tricks on the unsuspecting. A book Hero has brought with her seems to be warping her mind: the text changes depending on when it’s being read and who’s doing the reading, revealing startling new stories of fictional Praguers past and present. Uninvited companions appear at bachelorette activities and at city landmarks, offering opinions, humor, and even a taste of treachery. When a third woman from Hero and Sofie’s past appears unexpectedly, the tensions between the friends’ different accounts of the past reach a new level.

An adventurous, kaleidoscopic novel, Parasol Against the Axe considers the lines between illusion and delusion, fact and interpretation, and weighs the risks of attaching too firmly to the stories of a place, or a person, or a shared history. How much is a tale influenced by its reader, or vice versa? And finally, in a battle between friends, is it better to be the parasol or the axe?

Reviews

Praise for Parasol Against the Axe

“Bold, lucid, and experimental. . . Oyeyemi delightfully channels a Borgesian literary lunacy. . . This is a metatextual masterpiece.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Oyeyemi writes here as an heir to Calvino or Borges…A dizzying, dazzling romp.” —Kirkus Reviews

"Like so much of Helen Oyeyemi’s acclaimed work, Parasol Against the Axe defies a simple logline—which, of course, is to its credit as an immersive, variegated study of a city and the people within...you’ll want to do all you can not to tear your eyes from the page.”—Elle

“Oyeyemi’s language, along with her ability to drop clues and invite questions without clear answers, makes the reading experience a world unto its own. . .The pleasure of Parasol Against the Axe lies in figuring out what is real and what is imag­ined—and if, in Oyeyemi’s world, the differ­ence even matters.” BookPage

Author

© Katerina Janisova
Helen Oyeyemi is the author of seven novels, including Peaces, Gingerbread, and Boy, Snow, Bird, and of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Winner of the PEN Open Book and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Oyeyemi was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. View titles by Helen Oyeyemi