HERE IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DEBUT NOVEL FRESH WATER BY AKWAEKE EMEZI
Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. Her debut autobiographical novel, FRESHWATER, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in February 2018 and her short story 'Who Is Like God' won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa. She recently made a cameo in the music video for Jay-Z's title track '4:44', directed by Arthur Jafa.
An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side." Unsettling, heart-wrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities. Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves--now protective, now hedonistic--move into control, Ada's life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction. Narrated by the various selves and based in the author's realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.
"In Emezi's remarkable debut novel, Freshwater, we enter the lives of our protagonist, starting in Nigeria and ending in the United States. Every page is imbued with radiant prose, and a chorus of poetic voices. With a plot as alive and urgent as it is relatable, Freshwater is also solidly its own, brims with its unique preoccupations. Never before have I read a novel like it -- one that speaks to the unification and separation of bodies and souls, the powers or lack thereof of gods and humans, and the long and arduous journey to claiming our many selves, or to setting our many selves free."
— Chinelo Okparanta, author of 'Happiness Like Water' and 'Under The Udala Trees', winner of 2014 and 2016 Lambda Literary Awards, and one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists.
Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Akwaeke holds two degrees, including an MPA from New York University. In 2017, she was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant for the video art in her project The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction. She received a 2015 Morland Writing Scholarship to write her second novel, and is a 2016 Kimbilio Fellow. Akwaeke's writing has been published by Granta Online and Commonwealth Writers, among others, and her cultural commentary has appeared on Vogue.com. Her memoir work was selected and edited by Chimamanda Adichie (‘Sometimes The Fire Is Not Fire’) and included in The Fader's 'Best Culture Writing of 2015' ('Who Will Claim You?'). Her experimental short UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival and has screened in over thirteen countries.