Vogue caught up with Nigerian-born author Helen Oyeyemi about her latest tome, “Mr. Fox.”
Oyeyemi sounded off about one of the major themes in her work:
Gender politics is a major theme in Mr. Fox, and it’s fascinating to see how the power dynamic between the male and female characters in this unusual love triangle is constantly being reevaluated throughout the book. How did this unfold in the writing process, and were there any surprises for you? Women are constantly being killed by their husbands, lovers, brothers, and fathers—it’s reported every day, and in a way, the frequency of the reporting normalizes the murders. Terror and anger and helplessness come when I think of all that goes unreported, either because it’s not known to the media or because it isn’t quite murder yet. When I first started writing Mr. Fox I was interested in something that’s coded into the way these stories are reported: the ever-present potential for violence that seems to lurk within the love men have for women. Is it real? If so, how can we survive it? Can the violence be overcome once and for all, or is it something that dies down and has to be renegotiated every time it flares back up again?
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