FRESHWATER | GROVE ATLANTIC, FEBRUARY 2018

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custom cover art by ruby onyinyechi amanze | author portrait by elizabeth wirija

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 selves--now protective, now hedonistic--move into control, Ada's life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction. Narrated by the various selves and based in the author's realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.

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ADVANCE PRAISE

"In Emezi's remarkable debut novel, Freshwater, we enter the lives of our protagonist, starting in Nigeria and ending in the United States. Every page is imbued with radiant prose, and a chorus of poetic voices. With a plot as alive and urgent as it is relatable, Freshwater is also solidly its own, brims with its unique preoccupations. Never before have I read a novel like it -- one that speaks to the unification and separation of bodies and souls, the powers or lack thereof of gods and humans, and the long and arduous journey to claiming our many selves, or to setting our many selves free."
           — Chinelo Okparanta, author of 'Happiness Like Water' and 'Under The Udala Trees', winner of 2014 and 2016 Lambda Literary Awards, and one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists.

"Freshwater is one of those dazzling novels that defies these kinds of descriptions. We can gesture to the story -- set in Nigeria and America, told by all the selves of its Tamil/Igbo protagonist -- but such synthesis fails to convey the magic that awaits its reader. At once fiction and memoir, potent in its spiritual richness and sexual frankness, the text seems not to have been written by but channeled through its brilliant author. This may be Emezi's debut novel but she is an old -- an ancient -- storyteller: thrillingly at home in the tradition of griots, poets, seers and seekers."
            — Taiye Selasi, New York Times bestselling author of 'Ghana Must Go' and one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists.

"With this stunning debut, Akwaeke Emezi has blessed us with nothing less than a masterpiece. Freshwater is a journey of loss and reconciliation, home and heartbreak, and ultimately a survivor's guide to harmonizing spirit and flesh. Quite simply a gorgeous, elegant, and brutal work of truthtelling. To repeat: a fucking masterpiece."
           — Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of the Shadowshaper Cypher and the Bone Street Rumba, winner of the International Latino Book Award.

"What if we were not one person, but three in one body—created by careless gods who forgot to 'close the gate'? Akwaeke Emezi’s novel, Freshwater, paints a fiercely unique,unforgettable story of identity, mental health and the world beyond ours. This impressive debut is lyrical and well-told."
           — Tananarive Due, American Book Award winner, author of Ghost Summer: Stories (British Fantasy Award).

"Akwaeke Emezi is a major, exhilarating talent."
           — NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award. 

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