Cover of Freshwater
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By: Akwaeke Emezi

Publisher: Grove / Atlantic

Imprint: Grove Press

Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780802128997

Other Formats:

Electronic | Hardcover | Audio

On Sale: | Pages: 240

  • About the Book
  • Reviews
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.
...[a] remarkable and daring debut novel... “Freshwater” is a poetic and disturbing depiction of mental illness as it haunts the protagonist from birth to adulthood... Unlike many depictions of dissociative identity disorder in fiction, Emezi steers clears of hysteria and fear-driven drama.... More powerful than Emezi's prose, though, is what it brings to the real world. Eating disorders, cutting, depression, suicide, manic depression — in the popular imagination, all these things are most often seen as the struggles of young, wealthy, white American women. This novel expands the universe of mental illness to include women of color and other ethnicities.... “Freshwater” builds slowly, but that only crystallizes how fractured Ada and her personalities are. As the voices in her head get louder and grow hungrier, the story gains momentum.
—New York Times
The novel is based in many of the realities of the writer's life, but the prose is infused with imaginative lyricism and tone. In the end, this coming-of-age novel also has one foot on the other side, held between the open gates � a young woman of many nations and many souls.... Emezi's lyrical writing, her alliterative and symmetrical prose, explores the deep questions of otherness, of a single heart and soul hovering between, the gates open, fighting for peace.
—Los Angeles Times
Akwaeke Emezi's bewitching and heart-rending “Freshwater” is a coming-of-age novel like no other.... It isn't crucial to one's appreciation of this novel to know that it's author describes it as somewhat autobiographical, but that fact combined with Emezi's entrancing descriptive skill helps explain the disarming conviction of her telling. For all its sheer invention, “Freshwater” feels more like an interpretive journey through uncharted territory with an experienced guide. Potent and moving, knowing and strange, this is a powerful and irresistibly unsettling debut.
—Seattle Times
...a slim novel so rooted in its lineage and yet so bright, putting thoughts together in new ways, crafting a devastating and exuberant work.... This is Emezi's story, shot through with fiction. Truth and reimagining flow into and through each other here. She has woven them into a story to share with us, and it feels like a blessing. The book explores mental health, metaphysics, faith, and inter- and intra-personal relationships in glorious, astonishing and brutal ways. This is a paean to the self, to the selves. FRESHWATER is simply, and unquestionably, an absolute masterpiece of a novel.
...a narrative richly steeped in Igbo folklore, though readers may be reminded of the more familiar Greek epics, in which the gods treat their human playthings with affection or spite but above all with majestic indifference.... Its conclusion is as striking and mysterious as the ways of the gods who narrate it.... Ms. Emezi's debut is the latest standout in this exciting boom in the Nigerian novel.
—Wall Street Journal
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