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The prize-winning, bestselling author of Peaces and Gingerbread returns with a novel about competitive friendship, the elastic boundaries of storytelling, and the meddling influence of a city called Prague

In Helen Oyeyemi’s joyous new novel, the Czech capital is a living thing—one that can let you in or spit you out.

For reasons of her own, Hero Tojosoa accepts an invitation she was half expected to decline, and finds herself in Prague on a bachelorette weekend hosted by her estranged friend Sofie. Little does she know she’s arrived in a city with a penchant for playing tricks on the unsuspecting. A book Hero has brought with her seems to be warping her mind: the text changes depending on when it’s being read and who’s doing the reading, revealing startling new stories of fictional Praguers past and present. Uninvited companions appear at bachelorette activities and at city landmarks, offering opinions, humor, and even a taste of treachery. When a third woman from Hero and Sofie’s past appears unexpectedly, the tensions between the friends’ different accounts of the past reach a new level.

An adventurous, kaleidoscopic novel, Parasol Against the Axe considers the lines between illusion and delusion, fact and interpretation, and weighs the risks of attaching too firmly to the stories of a place, or a person, or a shared history. How much is a tale influenced by its reader, or vice versa? And finally, in a battle between friends, is it better to be the parasol or the axe?

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of seven novels, including Peaces, Gingerbread, and Boy, Snow, Bird, and of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Winner of the PEN Open Book and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Oyeyemi was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists.


  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (March 5, 2024)
  • Language English
  • Hardcover 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 0593192362
  • ISBN-13 9780593192368
  • Item Weight 1.07 pounds
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.69 x 9 inches


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