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EAST BAY BOOKSELLERS welcomes Akwaeke Emezi to discuss her acclaimed debut novel, Freshwater on Tuesday, February 27th at 7pm. She will be joined in conversation with our good friend Rahawa Haile!
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. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. 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.
Told from the perspective of the various selves within Ada, and closely based on the author's own personal experiences, Freshwater explores the metaphysics of identity and mental health, plunging the reader into the mystery of being and self. Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.
“Freshwater is a clarion call to those of us who find that our minds are more haunted and complex than that of the status quo. In exquisite, unearthly prose, Akwaeke Emezi renders the ordinary strange and the strange, ordinary—making Freshwater the most stunning debut novel I've read in years. An unforgettable literary experience. -- Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Border of Paradise
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(s)
Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and artist based in liminal spaces. Born and raised in Nigeria, she received her MPA from New York University. She was awarded a 2015 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa. Her work has been selected and edited by Chimamanda Adichie, and published in various literary magazines, including Granta.
Rahawa Haile is an Eritrean American writer whose work has appeared in Pacific Standard, Brooklyn Magazine, and Buzzfeed. Her debut memoir, In Open Country, is forthcoming. She lives in Oakland.