Akwaeke Emezi


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A National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree
Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

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 alters—now protective, now hedonistic—move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.
Narrated by the selves within Ada, and based in the author’s realities, 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.
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216 printed pages
Original publication


    gesare Ombachishared an impressionlast year
    👍Worth reading



    Iveth Martínezhas quoted7 months ago
    Reality was a difficult space for her to inhabit
    Iveth Martínezhas quoted7 months ago
    Important things slip past in the moment, when it feels sharp and they are young enough to think that the feeling will remain
    Iveth Martínezhas quoted7 months ago
    The first madness was that we were born, that they stuffed a god into a bag of skin

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