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Who Fears Death MP3 CD – Audiobook, 4 Feb 2014

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MP3 CD, Audiobook, 4 Feb 2014
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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; MP3 Una edition (4 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 148058634X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1480586345
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. Palmer on 10 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who Fears Death is set in (for most of the book) an unnamed (though it's clear that it's somewhere on the African continent) place post-ecological apocalypse. Despite the futuristic setting, unfortunately Okorafor could be writing about now - it could easily be any place in the world that suffers the violence that continues to be shamefully under-reported in this country.

The novel opens in a horrific style. The protagonist (Onyesunwo - whose name means "Who Fears Death?") is the result of a brutal rape. Her mother, an Okeke, whose people are enslaved and persecuted by the Nuru - another people who believe that it is their right to dominate the Okeke. Unfortunately, this is not so far-fetched; the use of rape as a weapon is well documented in the world (if not well-enough known of). Onyesunwo as the product of violence is shunned by the people she goes to live amongst; she looks different, but she is also a reminder to them that they are not at peace. This part of the novel is not easy reading, nor should it be.

That said, while Okorafor refuses to shy from the violence inherent in this type of conflict, where the battlefield moves to the womb, there are a number of other ideas explored that, while no-less painful, are handled sensitively and without judgement. At the age of 11, in common with her peers, Onyesunwo undergoes the rite of circumcision. Correctly this would be described as female genital mutilation. Okorafor successfully makes it clear that this is a practice that is wrong, which no amount of well-meaning moral relativism can excuse. Onyesunwo's mother and beloved adoptive father do not approve of the practice while Onyesunwo doesn't fully understand what it entails and the consequences of submitting to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Federhirn on 17 Sept. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Who Fears Death" is a novel set in Africa. In fact, it is a fantasy / science fiction novel set in a postapocalyptic Africa, but to be honest, this only became clear to me very late in the novel.

Our heroine, Onyesonwu, is an "Ewu", a mixed race girl, born as a result of a rape. Permanently an outsider, she is passionate, stubborn, quick to anger, and, it turns out, adept at using magic / juju. She is determined to learn magic and change the world.

The world, meanwhile, is a desert, populated by two tribes / races: Nurus and Okekes. Nurus rule, Okekes are slaves. There's been an uprising by Okekes before Onye was born. Now there is a slow-moving genocide (Nurus killing Okekes), ongoing since before Onye's birth, and continuing, brutally.

There is a lot of stuff in this novel that makes the reader think, and which offers itself for debate and discussion. Much of its core is about the relationship between a group of young people. The novel clearly has a lot to say about women and sex and gender politics. The shifting relationships between our questing youths (four girls, two guys), and the importance of sex, are as much part of the novel as magic and genocide.

Who Fears Death is not a young adult novel (based on the cartoonish cover, and having read only one novel by this author previously, which was a young adult novel, I had the wrong expectations). It is a novel that feels authentically African (which is an achievement, as the author was born and lives in America). The way the story handles tribes, beliefs in juju / magic, and the strange way in which life can go on while civil war and genocide are also occurring, in close proximity - it all feels genuine, incredibly, depressing and eery.
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By @nonlocaljoker on 10 July 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I would like to take issue with the assumption that this is some kind of fantasy novel. It is a measure of the dominance of the mechanistic mindset that one can believe in the (predictive) truth of science fiction whereas a model which celebrates the plasticity of the human form is seen only as a legitimate device of the artist. Shape-shifting is real, not imaginary, and the two factors that stand in the way of acceptance of this fact are cultural conditioning and our own (lack of) experience.

An important sub-theme of this extraordinary, uplifting book is the limiting nature of certain cultural beliefs. You are more likely to dream of your departed ancestors or witness shape-shifting in certain parts of Africa where there is experience and cultural acceptance of these phenomena. Africa therefore is fertile soil when it comes to accessing a broader, deeper template of human experience. But unfortunately with conquest come the importation of new practices and the imposition of mindsets, which split humans off from their own experience and wisdom traditions. Circumcision, with its ambiguous associations to sacrifice, is one such. I sense the author may be singling this out as an example of an ancient rite which literally cuts us off from our inner divinity and therefore from our ability to grow to our true potential; the fact that Onyesonwu had lost her clitoris meant that her chances of becoming a shape-shifter had been compromised. But it is more than that. Pervading Who Fears Death is the sense of old thinking creating entropy, enmity, warfare and chaos. Are we to understand that human beings' pattern of cutting the body in deference to a projected external authority is the root cause of our degeneration?
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