White Is for Witching

White Is for Witching

by Helen Oyeyemi


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Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award
One of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists
From the acclaimed author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours and Gingerbread
There’s something strange about the Silver family house in the closed-off town of Dover, England. Grand and cavernous with hidden passages and buried secrets, it’s been home to four generations of Silver women—Anna, Jennifer, Lily, and now Miranda, who has lived in the house with her twin brother, Eliot, ever since their father converted it to a bed-and-breakfast. The Silver women have always had a strong connection, a pull over one another that reaches across time and space, and when Lily, Miranda’s mother, passes away suddenly while on a trip abroad, Miranda begins suffering strange ailments. An eating disorder starves her. She begins hearing voices. When she brings a friend home, Dover’s hostility toward outsiders physically manifests within the four walls of the Silver house, and the lives of everyone inside are irrevocably changed. At once an unforgettable mystery and a meditation on race, nationality, and family legacies, White is for Witching is a boldly original, terrifying, and elegant novel by a prodigious talent.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594633072
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/04/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 148,662
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of five novels, most recently White Is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, Mr. Fox, which won a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Boy, Snow, Bird. In 2013, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. She lives in Prague.

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "White is for Witching"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Helen Oyeyemi.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“[Oyeyemi] makes us glad to suspend disbelief."
The New York Times Book Review

“Profoundly chilling . . . a slow-building neo-Gothic that will leave persevering readers breathless.”
The Boston Globe

“If you’ve been missing Shirley Jackson all these many years . . . here’s a writer who seems to be a direct heir to that lamented one’s gothic throne.”
The Austin Chronicle

“Superbly atmospheric. . . . The dark tones of Poe in her haunting have also the elasticity of Haruki Murakami’s surreal mental landscapes.”
The Independent (UK)

“[Oyeyemi’s] technical skill as a novelist is remarkable, her range of reference formidable and her use of language virtuosic.”
The Daily Telegraph (UK) 

"Appealing from page one.... Unconventional, intoxicating and deeply disquieting."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Laced with thought-provoking story lines."

Customer Reviews

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White Is for Witching 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
JimmyTamTam More than 1 year ago
Beautiful, compelling, trippy book with multiple narrators (including the house!). Great voice, and thoughtful. Very Gothic-infused. I felt a bit confused at times, but that’s on me… author did a great job all around.
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book made me feel like I was losing my mind. Oyeyemi is doing things with prose that ordinary people only dream about doing, weaving Nigerian folktales into stories of violent, irrational racism so full of hate it survives even death and stories of complicated, completely dysfunctional familial relationships from which there is simply no escape. She slips in and out of different characters' consciousnesses quickly and easily, expecting the reader to keep up on multiple trips to the buffet of unreasonable narrators. The story is terrifying and weird - everything you'd expect from a psychological thriller - but without gore or graphic nastiness. The ordinary and the supernatural crowd each other relentlessly throughout the novel, leaving the reader with the confused, dreamy, nightmarish feeling of slowly losing a handle on reality, much like the characters.It's excellently written, and challenging without being daunting. Definitely one of the better books I've read in 2010, despite what other readers have said about how confusing it is. It's not a light read, but it's a worthwhile one.
shanjan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What do haunted houses, eating disorders and twins have in common? This novel. Other than that I'm left scratching my head over how these things had any relationship in this story. I felt like there were some interesting elements in this novel that had some potential. However none of these elements were threaded together effectively create a cohesive novel. Instead of working these components together they seemed to be disjointed and tangential. I was left feeling like this was a first draft of a potentially interesting story that needed to be reworked and significantly edited in order to reach its full potential.
alexann on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written in a style that is both abstract and stream-of-consciousness, White Is for Witching is the story of Miranda Silver, a young woman who suffers from pica. She lives with her father and a housekeeper in their large house in Dover, which her father runs as Bed and Breakfast. Unfortunately the house seems to be filled with evil, although this evil is seldom spelled out in a way that is comprehensible. Wordy and hard to follow, it will appeal only to certain readers.
katiekrug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don¿t really know what to say about this odd little novel. It tells the story of Miranda Silver, a British girl afflicted with all sorts of problems from the physical to the mental, her twin brother Eliot, the house they inhabit in Dover, England, and the ghosts of their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. The house is a malevolent force and so much a character in the book that it gets its own narrative voice. There are, in fact, multiple narrators here, and most of them are unreliable. The narrative perspective changes often, as does the time, so that the reader is left to figure out if the story has advanced or moved back. In reading other reviews, I found some of them contradictory to each other and to what I thought had happened ¿ Oyeyemi obviously is playing with time and perspective and the reader never does get a handle on the story as a whole. Reading this book is like trying to read through a prism or pieces of fractured glass. I felt like I was always missing something, some fragment that would make sense of it all. That being said, the imagery in the book is wonderful ¿ very rich and textured, and the sense of foreboding and horror build nicely. I struggled with the first half but settled in for the second and was rewarded. Though still confused.
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rating: 2* of fiveThe Book Report: Teenaged girl from a long line of off-kilter female ancestors loses her mother after developing a rare eating disorder. Clueless males make things worse. Her house is haunted. Blah blah blah.My Review: I cannot believe I wasted eyeblinks on this boring, vapid girl. Her mother couldn't stand her to the point of being gone most of the time, and I say go mom. Dad's a selfish, clueless cretin. In short, nothing new, except the little dullard has an affliction called ¿pica,¿ which makes her eat non-biological non-foodstuffs. Oh goody good good, another girl with an eating disorder that makes her Different from others, isolated, misunderstood! How refreshing! Such a bold storytelling choice. Why, NO ONE does that! Oh, and then there's the aforementioned clueless maleness. My sweet saints, why has no woman thought to use *that* in her books before? Two stars for introducing me to pica. Apart from that, I'd've settled on 1/2-star and a much longer, more vituperative attack on the pointless, me-too, competently written snore-inducingly dull book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want to feel depressed, read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not what i expected: this book left me breathless and filled with dread-the writing is of the sort that will make you wonder at the English language and how some authors have a grasp of it that puts us all to shame
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! Very interesting take on pica as a form of vampirism.
Adaptoid More than 1 year ago
It is very obvious that Oyeyemi has a brilliant mind and makes great use of it. So many novels are commended for their prose and I'm left wondering what I missed. This book is truly masterful prose. While I loved the twists in narration I was left amiss a few times, but that may have been my state of mind. The story itself is simple yet elegant and the characters beautifully disturbing. Had the haunting aspect been a little more evolved at an earlier stage I'd have rated this a full five stars. However I was in no way disappointed and will read the author's other work. Highly recommend.
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