Who Fears Death

Who Fears Death

4.2 41
by Nnedi Okorafor
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

"Haunting and absolutely brilliant. My heart and guts are all turned inside out." —John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Sara Sklaroff
In treating subjects such as the abuse of women, gender politics and racial genocide, Okorafor comes dangerously close to polemic. But she never crosses that line, opting instead for a story that is both wondrously magical and terribly realistic.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Well-known for young adult novels (The Shadow Speaks; Zahrah the Windseeker), Okorafor sets this emotionally fraught tale in postapocalyptic Saharan Africa. The young sorceress Onyesonwu—whose name means “Who fears death?”—was born Ewu, bearing a mixture of her mother's features and those of the man who raped her mother and left her for dead in the desert. As Onyesonwu grows into her powers, it becomes clear that her fate is mingled with the fate of her people, the oppressed Okeke, and that to achieve her destiny, she must die. Okorafor examines a host of evils in her chillingly realistic tale—gender and racial inequality share top billing, along with female genital mutilation and complacency in the face of destructive tradition—and winds these disparate concepts together into a fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling. (June)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780756407285
Publisher:
DAW
Publication date:
02/04/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
195,789
Product dimensions:
4.12(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.12(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"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
 

Meet the Author

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.

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Who Fears Death 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Tori46 More than 1 year ago
I absoulutely loved this book! The story was thought consuming and the characters were true personalities. I definitely recommend reading it. Its a great read, I could not put it down.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The world may have been shattered by a nuclear holocaust, but mankind continues to fight one another; just on a smaller scale. In post-nuclear Sahara, genocide is the norm as the followers of the Great Book ethnically cleanse the region. Thus the Nuru believing God is on their side, hunt and eradicate the Okeke. In one village, the lone survivor is raped by the exterminators. She escapes into the desert eventually giving birth to a girl who the mom knows is unique. Using an ancient forgotten African language she names her offspring (from the brutal sexual assault) Onyesonwu, "Who Fears Death". As a shaman raises Onyesonwu, the genocide continues unabated. However, new hope arises amidst the embattled Okeke that a savior has come. Onyesonwu has been learning about her magical power to end the murderous cleansing. However, she must study evil to understand evil before she can sacrifice herself in death so that the Okeke can live. Using a futuristic fantasy base, Nnedi Okorafor provides a great but grim realistic drama that focuses on genuine problems in Africa today. Through the escapades of the heroine, the story line disturbingly examines ethnic and religious cleansing, racism, sexism, female genital mutilation and sex slavery as humanity is inhumane to each other. Who Fears Death is superb as Ms. Okorafor provides a powerful post apocalyptic thriller with strong ramifications in today's on the Eve of Destruction world. Harriet Klausner
Mohendra More than 1 year ago
One of the best books i have evered read. The story was so complelling and wonderful.
syntactics 10 months ago
This is the book I never knew I had always wanted to read. Richly imagined, sweepingly epic, and deeply thoughtful about and critical of gender and race-based violence, Who Fears Death is somehow both brutal and hopeful, damning and yet tremendously empowering. Onyesonwu and her friends will be hard to forget.
Lindea-Nier More than 1 year ago
The greatest work of sorcery here is in the telling of the tale. The author has lovingly built a glowing desert world for the incandescent spirit of Onyesonwu and the characters who are close to her heart and part of her mission. With metaphor and magic, Okorafor attacks the problems of pure evil, brutal tribal warfare, and the oppression of women. Gently, she examines the dynamics that hold a more intimate group together or tear it apart. Random acts and events disrupt the lives of characters, hinting that any divine force in Onyesonwu's world must be cool and indifferent to the plight of human beings. Yet Onyesonwu eventually finds ways to transcend, all while binding the reader in a marvelous spell. Very original and highly recommended.
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Elizabeth Yaccarino More than 1 year ago
It's hard to tell where this book takes place. It coud be Africa or Egypt. It's about a girl Onyesonwu whos name means who fears death. She is 'ewu' which means conceived through violence when the Nuru tribal men rape allnof the Okeke women to extinnguish the Okeke race. It tells alot about juju and shape shifting. There is also a part regarding female circumcision known as the eleventh rite. Oyesonwu, Mwita, Luyu and Binta's journey to confront Onyesonwu's scorcerer father to defeat him is exciting.
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