In Akwaeke Emezi’s brief, splendid 2d novel for adults, the reader knows from the start that the vital character, Vivek Oji, is dead. After riots in the market in their Nigerian town, Vivek’s mother discovers his bare body placed “like a parcel, like a gift” at the circle of relatives’s doorstep. Why changed into he killed? Who killed him? Who was he? Answers emerge incompletely, fantastically and in fragments as the unconventional progresses and casts its spell.
“I’m not what all and sundry thinks I am. I by no means was,” Vivek says from somewhere outdoor life. “Every day it changed into difficult, walking around and knowing that human beings saw me one way, understanding that they were wrong, so completely wrong, that the real me changed into invisible to them.”
One of the extremely good elements of this novel is how Emezi makes a person’s invisibility visible. As a child, Vivek is bright, beautiful and by turns violently indignant and girlishly shy. He is frequently beset through fugue states at some stage in which his body is present and his awareness vanishes. Vivek’s own family is loving but not able to realise him. His extended family is populated through “Nigerwives,” girls from India, the Philippines or Sweden who're married to Nigerian men. Outdated sexual traditions and identities—a couple of better halves for Nigerian guys and a sanctified horror of gay human beings, for example—still be successful in those families. After being pressured to leave university, Vivek spends an increasing number of time with the daughters of his extended own family. These daughters are of a new technology and seem to apprehend and guard him.
Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. But, Emezi implies, it takes a lifestyle and its mythologies to erase a child. The Death of Vivek Oji is a profound exploration of the boundaries of personal, sexual and cultural transition.