Arts + Culture,
Indie Press Series: Akwaeke Emezi (Grove Atlantic)
May 13, 2019 - May 13, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 am
City of Asylum
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
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, heartwrenching, 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.
Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. They are a 2018 National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35’ honoree and their debut autobiographical novel Freshwater is currently a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and long-listed for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Translated into six languages, FRESHWATER was a New York Times Notable Book of 2018 and a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. It was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence and The Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, and named a Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker, NPR, the Chicago Public Library, and Buzzfeed. Freshwater debuted as an Indies Introduce Title, receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, the Guardian, and the LA Times, among others.
Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Emezi was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant in 2017 for the video art in their project The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction. Their writing has been published by T Magazine, Dazed Magazine, The Cut, Buzzfeed, Granta Online, Vogue.com, and Commonwealth Writers, among others. Their memoir work was included in The Fader’s ‘Best Culture Writing of 2015’ (‘Who Will Claim You?’) and their experimental short UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival.
Emezi is currently making video art and working on their fourth and fifth novels.