Bad Fiction Friend

Helen Oyeyemi writes a love letter to Prague

by Natalie Adler

An illustration of Prague city

What are girl friends for? Shenanigans, mostly. Sex, sometimes. Someone to talk about how much you hate to work, someone to avoid work with, someone to help you dream up gigs and also to help wriggle out of them. Someone to talk about other friends with. Someone to talk about with other friends. Who gets to be the main character, and who is telling the story?

Helen Oyeyemi’s newest novel, Parasol Against the Axe, is about female friendship, though none of the women in the novel are friends anymore. It is about not knowing a person or a place, even if the person or place in question is one with whom you have an entangled past. It is about the many stories that could be told, but are not, but you see them out of the corner of your eye — not as a proliferating multiverse, but in the way that no one person can read every book in a capacious library. Only a city itself holds omniscience.  

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