Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. Her debut autobiographical novel, FRESHWATER, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in February 2018 and has been selected as one of the ten best Winter/Spring 2018 debut novels by Indies Introduce. Her short story 'Who Is Like God' won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa, and she recently made a cameo in the music video for Jay-Z's title track '4:44', directed by Arthur Jafa.

Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Akwaeke holds two degrees, including an MPA from New York University. In 2017, she was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant for the video art in her project The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction. She received a 2015 Morland Writing Scholarship to write her second novel, and is a 2016 Kimbilio Fellow. Akwaeke's writing has been published by Granta Online,, and Commonwealth Writers, among others. Her memoir work was selected and edited by Chimamanda Adichie (‘Sometimes The Fire Is Not Fire’) and included in The Fader's 'Best Culture Writing of 2015' ('Who Will Claim You?'). Her experimental short UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival and has screened in over thirteen countries.

Akwaeke creates self-portraits that examine the process of navigating embodiment and within her work, she is interested in transgressive stories that challenge idealistic perceptions of humanity. Her practice centers themes of neurodivergence, Igbo faith traditions, loss and loneliness, death, dislocations, and liminal identities. Akwaeke is available for speaking engagements and is represented by the Wylie Agency. She is currently making video art and working on her third novel.


"I stood at the border, stood at the edge and claimed it as central. Claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was." — Toni Morrison

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