Book - 2018
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A National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Honoree
Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for a Debut Novel
Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
A New York Times Notable Book

One of the most highly praised novels of the year, the debut from an astonishing young writer, Freshwater tells the story of Ada, an unusual child who is a source of deep concern to her southern Nigerian family. Young Ada is troubled, prone to violent fits. Born "with one foot on the other side," she begins to develop separate selves within her as she grows into adulthood. And when she travels to America for college, a traumatic event on campus crystallizes the selves into something powerful and potentially dangerous, making Ada fade into the background of her own mind as these alters--now protective, now hedonistic--move into control. Written with stylistic brilliance and based in the author's realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace.

Publisher: New York : Grove Press, 2018
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780802127358
Branch Call Number: EME
Characteristics: 229 p. ;,22 cm


From the critics

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Apr 03, 2020

Twisted and intense, this book sheds light on mental illness through Nigerian mythology and culture. Amazing read!

Apr 03, 2020

Twisted and intense, this book sheds light on mental illness through Nigerian mythology and culture. Amazing read!

IndyPL_JoannaW Oct 15, 2019

I am surprised to see this recommended as a LGBTQ+ title. It is a book about true, life-long, untreated mental illness: a great deal of self-harming behavior including cutting, suicide attempts, heterosexual sex with abusive (even violent) partners. Also includes accounts of her random mean and manipulative sexual treatment of men, and her rage filled childhood. None of this is remotely ascribed to gender dysphoria. Even a breast reduction (not removal) appears to be another act of self harm, not anything to do with transgender issues. There is only a very peripheral, almost negligible suggestion that it might be. Lyrical language and inclusion of African mythology are strong points, but this is a very painful book to read full of hopelessness. Very disappointed that it did not deal with transgender issues as suggested in the reviews.

STPL_JessH Sep 19, 2019

I was drawn to Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi because of their outstanding writing. I found out after that the novel is autobiographical. Their work stopped me in my tracks. This visceral, multilayered story is both beautiful and bewildering. Emezi writes of spirits and embodiment in both fiction and non-fiction. Check out this article:

I’ve never read anything like Freshwater and can’t wait for their next book.

JCLChrisK Jun 20, 2019

Wow. Unique and powerful and moving and fulfilling. An experience.

Mar 13, 2019

Very different and interesting.

Jan 22, 2019

Emezi's book is a strange ride through a young Nigerian woman's fractured psyche as she comes of age in Nigeria and the United States.

I am a pretty fast reader, and Freshwater forced me to slow down and really think about what I was reading. Reading it is an experience. I learned a lot about Nigerian folklore and how we process trauma. It was fascinating, but definitely not for everyone!

Dec 11, 2018

Didn't get into it and abandoned it early on.

Nov 20, 2018

NY Times recommended book

Unlike any other book I've read. To the naked eye it's a book about mental illness, gender identity, expectations and fluidity, mixed cultural backgrounds, spirituality, etc. But Emezi doesn't write about any of these things in the way you'd expect. Her writing transcends the way these topics are typically discussed in fiction. You don't recognize that Emezi is talking about the trans experience, because Emezi isn't writing a trans character, she's telling a story--not trying to throw the trans experience into her novel for the sake of including a trending topic. The way Emezi structures the dialogue between the selves, can be confusing at times, you're not sure who is talking, which self is presenting, but that mirrors the Ada's own confusion and draws the reader closer to all the selves.

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brihawkins13 May 07, 2018

brihawkins13 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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