Quotes by: Helen Oyeyemi

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Helen Oyeyemi
Born Helen O. Oyeyemi
1984 (age 32–33)
Occupation Novelist
Genre Fiction

I tend to prioritize emotional realism above the known laws of time and space, and when you do that, it's inevitable that strange things happen. Which can be quite enjoyable, I think.
Helen Oyeyemi
The way that people feel changes everything. Feelings are forces. They cause us to time travel. And to leave ourselves, to leave our bodies. I would be that kind of psychologist who says, 'You're absolutely right - there are monsters under the bed.'
Helen Oyeyemi
I've always felt happy in my own company. It's only when I get around other people that things get sticky.
Helen Oyeyemi
Fairy tales, because they have a very clear structure, are easier to interfere with. Also they have this really weird logic: the kind of logic that you only really experience when you're not feeling very well, or as a child.
Helen Oyeyemi
I don't think my writing has much to do with my age. For me, my biography is more about what I was reading at what age. It's more of an intellectual thing of wanting to be free to write and think without being too bound by categorisation. I don't think I'm made for these times; I feel more like an old-fashioned writer.
Helen Oyeyemi
I take aliens very seriously and don't appreciate light entertainment or weak approximations being made of them.
Helen Oyeyemi
I'm greedy about cities - I like to form my impressions of them on my own, and on foot as far as possible, looking and listening, having conversations with bridges and streets and riverbanks, conversations I tend not to be aware of until a little later, when I find myself returning to those places to say hello again, even if only in memory.
Helen Oyeyemi
So many times I've encountered people who are just kind of like, 'Yeah, Nigeria,' and, you know, thump their chest and seem very sure of, like, being Nigerian. And I'm just kind of, like, I wish I could be that sure.
Helen Oyeyemi
I have been in love with Emily Dickinson's poetry since I was 13, and, like an anonymous post on findagrave.com says, 'Dear Emily - I hope I have understood.' Emily's poems are sometimes difficult, often abstract, on occasion flippant, but her mind is inside them.
Helen Oyeyemi
I sometimes get asked: 'How come the men in your stories don't have such strong characters?' And I'm like: 'I don't care.' I just want to find out about all the different lives a woman can live. But my feminism has never been against men. It's not erasure; it's just they're not the focus. In real life, they're quite nice.
Helen Oyeyemi
I don't feel there's a difference between the real world and the fairy-tale world. They contain psychological truths and, I guess, projections of what the culture that tells them thinks about various things: men, women, aging, dying - the most basic aspects of being human.
Helen Oyeyemi
The way I live now is that I only write, which means that I'm very poor but very happy. Everything in my life is the way I want it to be.
Helen Oyeyemi
I think I started writing about identity, and I used to believe that identity is the story. But now I'm not so much subscribed to that. I mean, with 'Mr. Fox,' it has a feminist agenda as well. And so, as I sort of been away from writing about identity, I still feel that kind of tug of roots and, you know, cultural background.
Helen Oyeyemi
The first book I really loved was 'Little Women' - I'd have given anything for Beth to have been allowed to live; I remember crying very much over her death, trying to make the words change just by staring at them. I loved 'Anne of Green Gables,' too; 'What Katy Did;' and 'Peter Pan.'
Helen Oyeyemi
I can recommend wearing blue mascara whilst writing. I'm telling you, it really adds something.
Helen Oyeyemi
I remember that I used to get lots of books from the library, and 'Little Women' was one of them. And I used to just cross out the parts of it that really upset me because it's such a sad book in so many ways. I'd cross out the parts that upset me, and I would rewrite new endings.
Helen Oyeyemi
Dickinson is my hero because she was a joker, because she would never explain, because as a poet she confronted pain, dread and death, and because she was capable of speaking of those matters with both levity and seriousness. She's my hero because she was a metaphysical adventurer.
Helen Oyeyemi
Sometimes I feel weird about time. Sometimes I feel that it doesn't go in the order we perceive it. There are... repetitions that maybe we decide not to notice because it is simpler. I like to pick up on those moments.
Helen Oyeyemi
I always wanted to be a writer! But I wanted to do other things, too - be a psychologist, a librarian, et cetera. Now I've decided that reading fiction that features characters who are in those professions will do.
Helen Oyeyemi
A few people have tried to make me see that my writing isn't quite their thing by saying to me: 'What about realism?' To which my general response is, 'What about it?' However, I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of my favorite writers, Marilynne Robinson, was to say something similar if asked 'What about the fantastic?'
Helen Oyeyemi
I don't despise 'Don Quixote,' but it is a book I don't... get. I'll have to come back it. Maybe there'll be a gateway story that opens it up for me; that happened for me with 'Paradise Lost' and the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy.
Helen Oyeyemi
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