Who Fears Death
By Nnedi Okorafor
(DAW, Mass Market Paperback, 9780756407285, 432pp.)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
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International award-winning Nnedi Okorafor enters the world of magical realist literature with a powerful story of genocide in the far future and the woman who reshapes her world.
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways, yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different--special--she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language. It doesn't take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her violent conception.
She is Ewu--a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by both tribes. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm she learns something terrifying: Someone powerful is trying to kill her.
Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately teaches her why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.
Nnedi Okorafor was born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents. She holds a PhD in English and is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. She has been the winner of many awards for her short stories and young adult books, and won a World Fantasy Award for Who Fears Death. Nnedi's books are inspired by her Nigerian heritage and her many trips to Africa. She lives in Chicago with her daughter Anyaugo and family. She can be contacted via her website, www.nnedi.com.
"A fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Beautifully written, this is dystopian fantasy at its very best. Expertly exploring issues of race, gender, and cultural identity, Okorafor blends future fantasy with the rhythm and feel of African storytelling. " —Library Journal (starred review)
"Both wondrously magical and terribly realistic." —The Washington Post
"Believable, nuanced characters of color and an unbiased view of an Africa full of technology, mysticism, culture clashes and true love." —Ebony Magazine (editor's pick)
"Her pacing is tight. Her expository sections sing like poetry. Descriptions of paranormal people and battles are disturbingly vivid and palpable. But most crucial to the book's success is how the author slowly transforms Onye's pursuit of her rapist father from a personal vendetta to a struggle to transform the social systems that created him." —The Village Voice
"Okorafor is a master storyteller who combines recent history, fantasy, tradition, advanced technology, and culture into something wonderful and new that should not be missed." —RT Book Review (top pick)
"To compare author Nnedi Okorafor to the late Octavia E. Butler would be easy to do, but this simple comparison should not detract from Okorafor’s unique storytelling gift." —New York Journal of Books