Who Fears Death : Who Fears Death

  • by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Narrated by Anne Flosnik
  • Series: Who Fears Death
  • 15 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert.
She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue.
Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny - to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture - and eventually death itself.

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What the Critics Say

"Okorafor examines a host of evils in her chillingly realistic tale—gender and racial inequality share top billing, along with female genital mutilation and complacency in the face of destructive tradition—and winds these disparate concepts together into a fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A journey.

This book is a journey, and it is at times an intentionally uncomfortable one. Set in a (far?) future subsaharan Africa, racially-based genocides continue between the Nuru and the Okeke. An "Ewu" girl (the result of the rape of an Okeke by a Nuru man) is given the name Onyesonwu -- "Who Fears Death". This book has magic -- in particular: shape-shifting, and traveling to The Wilderness, the space where spirits go after life -- and sand, and violence -- though this is not a book "about" magic, or sand -- and scenes which are both unsettling and gripping. The narration from Anne Flosnik here is quite primal; we feel the pain and, as often, anger of Onyesonwu and her companions and adversaries.

Okorafor's world is one where some technology remains -- portable computers with maps, water collection devices -- but this is not at all a book about technology. It is about people, and in particular the roles of women (and men) in a highly tribal culture. There are ruins -- old, paved roads -- but this is not a book about the past. It is also not a book about the future. It is a book which is quite present, and is highly recommended to readers with an interest in something beyond the beaten path, whether coming from an interest in fantasy or more mainstream fiction, and the willingness to travel on unfamiliar and rocky ground.
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- Samuel Montgomery-Blinn

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If you could sum up Who Fears Death in three words, what would they be?

Powerful, absorbing, refreshing


What was one of the most memorable moments of Who Fears Death?

When Onyesonwu, Luyu, and Mwita take shelter in the "haunted" cave


Have you listened to any of Anne Flosnik’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, I have listened to Anne Flosnik's narration of Robin Hobb's Rail Wilds trilogy. To be honest, I found her narration of those novels quite irritating, and thought she did a much better job with Who Fears Death. But, see my additional comments, below.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

So many—Onyesonwu's friendship with the blacksmith, who became her stepfather; Aro's decision to teach Onye; the reconciliation between Onye and her friends Luyu, Diti, and Binta (you'll know which one I mean); Mwita's declaration of ifunanya; etc. etc.!


Any additional comments?

Anne Flosnik did a good job with the "African" accent she adopted for this novel. However, I disagree with the producer's decision to ask it of her. There's no reason Onyesonwu needs to sound like (a white person's idea of) what an African sounds like when they are just learning to speak English. I could understand it better if there were non-African or native English-speaking characters in the novel, from whom Onyesonwu needed to be distinguished; but that is not the case. All the accent does is perpetuate the idea that fantasy/sci-fi novels dealing with non-Western cultures/settings are foreign and strange. Put another way: If you were to read this novel, you would "hear" Onyesonwu in your head speaking with your own voice/accent. I can't help thinking Okorafor would prefer that kind of reader-character identification to the "othering" effect created by Flosnik's artificially imposed "black African" accent.

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- Marian Makins

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-29-2010
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio