OPPOSITE HOUSE

Oyeyemi, Helen

| 2007

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Maja Carmen Carrera was only five years old when her black Cuban family emigrated from the Caribbean to London, leaving her with one complete memory: a woman singing - in a voice both eerie and enthralling - at their farewell party, while little Maja peered out from beneath a table. Now, almost twenty years later, Maja herself is a singer, in love with Aaron, pregnant and haunted by what she calls 'her Cuba'. Growing up in London, she has struggled to negotiate her history and the sense that speaking the Spanish or the English of her people's conquistadors made her less of a black girl. But she is unable to find in herself the Ewe, Igbo, or Swahili of her roots. It seems all that's left is silence. Maja's mother finds solace and identity in her faith, burning paper flowers in front of her shrine and its Yoruba gods, while her father rails against his wife's superstitions and the lost dreams...

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