20 best genre fiction writers from other countries to expand your horizons

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1. Helen Oyeyemi

British writer Helen Oyeyemi creates works that aren’t exactly genre fiction – but, then again, neither does her work itself stay in one given place.

Oyeyemi was born in Nigeria in 1984, but moved to London with her family just four years later. She eventually proved to be an intelligent and dedicated student. While studying for the academically rigorous A-Levels (necessary for acceptance to a college or university), she also wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl. Even gaining entry into the prestigious Cambridge University, where she studied political and social science, didn’t stop her. She wrote and published her second novel, The Opposite House, while still a student there.

Though Oyeyemi gained plenty of recognition for her first two books, the thoroughly spooky and unsettling White is for Witching got her even more attention. Oyeyemi’s third book definitely has strong elements of the horror genre, thanks to a sentient house and an eerie set of twins as protagonists. But it’s also something more — a psychological drama, a coming-of-age story, and a literary meditation on mourning and isolation.

Oyeyemi drew on even deeper folkloric themes with Boy, Snow, Bird, her most recent novel published in 2014. Where White is for Witching is a disorienting take on the structure of a novel (which is to say, it doesn’t have a standard structure at all), Boy, Snow, Bird reads like a more typical novel. Don’t let that fool you, though. It takes on big themes like racism, redemption and family drama, while also drawing on fairy tales and evil stepmothers. It’s a smart, sad and ultimately positive tale.

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