author photo by kathleen bomani | cover art by ruby onyinyechi amanze

DEAR SENTHURAN

A BLACK SPIRIT MEMOIR

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“[One] of our greatest living writers.” —Shondaland

A full-throated and provocative memoir in letters from the New York Times-bestselling author, “a dazzling literary talent whose works cut to the quick of the spiritual self.” —Esquire

In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal.

Electrifying and inspiring, animated by the same voracious intelligence that distinguishes their fiction, Dear Senthuran is a revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival.

Preorder Now: Penguin Random House | Bookshop | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | BooksAMillion

Riverhead Books (US) • Faber & Faber (UK) 


UNLEASHED/DEAR READER

I want to write as if I am free.

If I was a different kind of writer, someone I am not, perhaps this would have been two books— one about moving through publishing, the other about moving spirit first—but these paths are not separate to me. It’s all one story; it’s all one life. This book is what I look like when I’m not translating myself to become accessible or legible, because here, I am already these things.

I want to write as if I am free; as if my people are my only readers, as if we are the ones who hold structural power, the ones for whom markets bend, the ones with resources from generational wealth, the target demographic. I want one book in my career where I didn’t have to bend or fold or capitulate because I am publishing in the United States, because I'm Black, or African, or nonhuman, or whichever part of me is considered illegible and inaccessible to whoever this industry thinks buys the most books. I want this book for the readers who know what I’m talking about. We're not often, if at all, considered enough to make a book for, not without grafting faces onto the work to make others feel included. This book will be a mirror to more people than this industry can imagine, and I want it to face us solidly. For those it might not face, I want them to grapple with reading work that doesn’t center them: work by a writer working in Black spirit theory, examining the metaphysical implications of nonhuman embodiment. I don’t think they’ll mind. Isn’t that what we expect books to do for us, to transport us?

This book is about the unfolding of a self—how I became a beast, glorious amidst death and literary success, bright in heartbreak and chronic pain, a nonhuman suffering through embodiment. It is a complement to my debut, Freshwater, in which I chose to mask, to cloak it in fiction and slip it inside something it was not because I didn’t believe the work would make it out into the world otherwise. These days, I am choosing to believe something different—that the work can exist for its own sake, breathing in the direction of Black ontology and community, a real time account of a mortal life as a storyteller.

Most of this is to say—here is something strange and raw and, I think, beautiful. Perhaps it will be cutting with its clarity; perhaps it will be swirling and opaque. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading it.

I wrote it like I was free.

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