Things They Lost: A Novel (Paperback)

Things They Lost: A Novel By Okwiri Oduor Cover Image
$17.99
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Description


Named a Most Anticipated Book by Vogue and Vulture

“Alternately whimsical, sweet, and dark,” this astonishing debut novel about a lonely girl waiting for her mother “brim[s] with uncompromisingly African magical realism” (The New York Times).

Ayosa is a wandering spirit—joyous, exuberant, filled to the brim with longing. Her only companions in her grandmother’s crumbling house are as lonely as Ayosa herself: the ghostly Fatumas, whose eyes are the size of bay windows, who teach her to dance and wail at the death news; the Jolly-Annas, cruel birds who cover their solitude with spiteful laughter; the milkman, who never greets Ayosa and whose milk tastes of mud; and Sindano, the kind owner of a café no one ever visits. Unexpectedly, miraculously, one day Ayosa finds a friend. Yet she is always fixed on her beautiful mama, Nabumbo Promise: a mysterious and aloof photographer, she comes and goes as she pleases, with no apology or warning.

Set at the intersection of the spirit world and the human one, Things They Lost sets out a rich and magical vision of “girlhood as a time of complexity, laced with unparalleled creativity and expansion” (Vogue). Heartbreaking, elegant, and written in “giddily exuberant prose” (Financial Times), it’s a story about connection, coming-of-age, and the dizzying dualities of love at its most intoxicating and all-encompassing.

About the Author


Okwiri Oduor was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Her short story “My Father’s Head” won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in GrantaThe New InquiryKwani, and elsewhere. She has been a fellow at MacDowell and Art Omi and a visiting writer at the Lannan Center. Oduor has an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She currently lives in Germany.

Praise For…


"From the start, Oduor — a winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, among other honors — broadcasts her tremendous talents ... Come for the beguiling narrative, and stay for the rich, evocative language."
Vulture, Most Anticipated of 2022

"An extraordinary tale about love, longing, and the bond between mothers and daughters."
Vogue, 25 Books by Black Authors We Can’t Wait to Read in 2022

"There are a small cadre of authors who redefine literary genres, writing freely without barriers. First-time novelist Oduor joins this exclusive literary club ... a riveting story about love, friendship, and belonging, transporting the reader to a whimsical yet heartbreaking world. This tale of mystery and longing is reminiscent of works by Ngugi wa Thiong'o and perfect for fans of Akwaeke Emezi."
Booklist

"A haunting bond between mother and daughter is examined in Oduor’s ambitious debut ... Oduor makes loss and familial disappointment palpable through her potent and visceral prose. This keeps the reader holding their breath." 
Publishers Weekly

''A wondrous newborn — mewling, dewy, twinkling, gurgling a tale steeped in the acrid surrealism of childhood, populated by wicked wraiths and held together by the vicious spell mothers can cast on their daughters.''
—Leila Aboulela, author of Bird Summons and Elsewhere, Home

"Otherworldly, unconventional, delectably surreal. One of the most magical and exhilarating introductions to a main character. Okwiri has taken language, sculpted something new and splendid out of it to deliver to the world. An array of some of the most memorable ‘in-between-worlds’ characters enter the literary world from Mapeli Town with aplomb. What a debut! What a gift!"
—Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, author of Dust and The Dragonfly Sea

"A narrative so profound, its humour shining so bright, that you'd think the author had written hundreds of books to have mastered the art of perpetual storytelling. A stunning debut!"
—Onyeka Nwelue, author of The Strangers of Braamfontein

“A coming-of-age tale that deftly refuses to play magic realism straight, Okwiri Oduor’s Things they Lost blends the phantasmagoria of Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard with the deadpan, wry humour of Bolaño. A welcome new Kenyan voice.”
—Olufemi Terry, author of "Stickfighting Days" and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982102586
ISBN-10: 1982102586
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: December 31st, 2045
Pages: 368
Language: English