The Death of Vivek Oji
by Akwaeke Emezi
“Electrifying.” — O: The Oprah Magazine
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 distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.
Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.
Paperback | 256 pages | Riverhead Books | 2021
Akwaeke Emezi is an honoree on the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” list, a long-list nominee for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence, and a short-list nominee for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. They continue to receive accolades for their adult debut, Freshwater, and their sophomore adult novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, which was an instant New York Times bestseller. Born in Umuhai and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Akwaeke holds two degrees, including an MPA from New York University, and lives in liminal spaces.