Book Review: The Death of Vivek Oji

Post by Kim, Information Services

The Death of Vivek Oji is a captivating and moving story by Nigerian author Akwaeke Emezi.  
Vivek Oji, the main character, is a bit of a mystery to his family. His mother Kavita knows Vivek is a gentle soul even though others view him as different and troubled. His father, Chika, is more concerned about the danger of Vivek going out with long hair in an intolerant Nigerian society, but neither of his parents truly understand the source of Vivek’s withdrawal and unhappiness. Kavita is devastated when she unexpectedly discovers his dead body at the door to their family home one afternoon. She becomes determined to uncover what happened to her son even if it causes tension with family and friends.  
The novel alternates between first person perspectives of Vivek’s cousin Osita, and Vivek himself (after death) as well as third person perspectives of his other friends and family. Over the course of the book, we see Vivek’s life reconstructed through stories leading up to the present day. Readers will get a full picture of his identity and his death, but also understand how individuals in his life may not have fully understood Vivek. 
For a tale with the word ‘death’ in the title, this novel is much more about celebrating life, which is something that I really enjoyed. At first, I felt a sense of dread that pushed me to continue reading and learn the truth about Vivek’s death. However, as the book went on, my fear disappeared. By the end of the novel, I felt appreciation for the life Vivek did live and how he was remembered by family and friends.  

This novel explores topics of gender identity, sexuality and trauma, while effortlessly weaving in Nigerian terms and cultural references. The writing is beautiful, and the depictions of grief are realistic and relatable.  

I highly recommend this incredible story for anyone who enjoys 2SLGBTQIA+ fiction, identity mysteries or wants to learn more about Nigerian culture. The Death of Vivek Oji is available in regular print, large print, e-book and e-audiobook. The audiobook features multiple narrators and even won an Audie award! 

If you like books by 2SLGBTQIA+ identifying authors or with stories with queer theme, you may want to join us Wednesday July 28th at 6pm for Queer KPL Book Club! We are reading The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya. Register here if you’re interested.

Want to read more like this? Check out these titles: 

Or ask us for recommendations! Our staff can suggest new items from the library collection, picked out just for you. Let us know what you are looking for and we will create a personalized suggestion list for you. Complete a DiscoveRead request here

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