Freshwater

Freshwater

Book - 2018
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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. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. 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 from the perspective of the various 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.
Published: New York :, Grove Press,, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780802127358
0802127355
Branch Call Number: F EME
Characteristics: 229 pages ;,22 cm
Alternative Title: Fresh water

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IndyPL_JoannaW Oct 15, 2019

I am surprised to see this recommended as a LGBTQ+ title. It is a book about true, life-long, untreated mental illness: a great deal of self-harming behavior including cutting, suicide attempts, heterosexual sex with abusive (even violent) partners. Also includes accounts of her random mean and manipulative sexual treatment of men, and her rage filled childhood. None of this is remotely ascribed to gender dysphoria. Even a breast reduction (not removal) appears to be another act of self harm, not anything to do with transgender issues. There is only a very peripheral, almost negligible suggestion that it might be. Lyrical language and inclusion of African mythology are strong points, but this is a very painful book to read full of hopelessness. Very disappointed that it did not deal with transgender issues as suggested in the reviews.

STPL_JessH Sep 19, 2019

I was drawn to Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi because of their outstanding writing. I found out after that the novel is autobiographical. Their work stopped me in my tracks. This visceral, multilayered story is both beautiful and bewildering. Emezi writes of spirits and embodiment in both fiction and non-fiction. Check out this article:

https://www.thecut.com/2018/01/writer-and-artist-akwaeke-emezi-gender-transition-and-ogbanje.html

I’ve never read anything like Freshwater and can’t wait for their next book.

n
nalahblueberry5
Mar 13, 2019

Very different and interesting.

b
booknrrd
Jan 22, 2019

Emezi's book is a strange ride through a young Nigerian woman's fractured psyche as she comes of age in Nigeria and the United States.

I am a pretty fast reader, and Freshwater forced me to slow down and really think about what I was reading. Reading it is an experience. I learned a lot about Nigerian folklore and how we process trauma. It was fascinating, but definitely not for everyone!

b
brookemagid
Dec 11, 2018

Didn't get into it and abandoned it early on.

Unlike any other book I've read. To the naked eye it's a book about mental illness, gender identity, expectations and fluidity, mixed cultural backgrounds, spirituality, etc. But Emezi doesn't write about any of these things in the way you'd expect. Her writing transcends the way these topics are typically discussed in fiction. You don't recognize that Emezi is talking about the trans experience, because Emezi isn't writing a trans character, she's telling a story--not trying to throw the trans experience into her novel for the sake of including a trending topic. The way Emezi structures the dialogue between the selves, can be confusing at times, you're not sure who is talking, which self is presenting, but that mirrors the Ada's own confusion and draws the reader closer to all the selves.

KatieD_KCMO Oct 05, 2018

Unlike any other book I've read. To the naked eye it's a book about mental illness, gender identity, expectations and fluidity, mixed cultural backgrounds, spirituality, etc. But Emezi doesn't write about any of these things in the way you'd expect. Her writing transcends the way these topics are typically discussed in fiction. You don't recognize that Emezi is talking about the trans experience, because Emezi isn't writing a trans character, she's telling a story--not trying to throw the trans experience into her novel for the sake of including a trending topic. The way Emezi structures the dialogue between the selves, can be confusing at times, you're not sure who is talking, which self is presenting, but that mirrors the Ada's own confusion and draws the reader closer to all the selves.

e
emroberts
Jun 26, 2018

My favorite read of 2018 so far. This book is lush, dark and gorgeous. It truly stuns me that this is Emezi's first novel. The writing is both striking and delicate, the subject honest, brutal and timely.

l
lukasevansherman
May 22, 2018

"How many days are we going to use to count the teeth of the devil?"
As the world becomes more connected and less Eurocentric, I've been trying to read more books from other countries/cultures (Why, yes I am proud of my shallow, smug liberalism.). "Freshwater" is the debut novel from Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi, and it's a strange one. It's main character, Ada, sort of has multiple selves or, rather, she has spirits dwelling in her ("ogbanje" in Igbo). It's a hard book to explain, but I would recommend it for those looking to get outside of America and outside of conventional, predictable literature. "All freshwater comes out of my mouth."

r
rixonkj
Apr 16, 2018

Powerful, challenging, by the end of the book I felt like I had been fractured and re-set, like I might heal better from here on out.

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brihawkins13 May 07, 2018

brihawkins13 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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