Publisher: Grove Press
Akwaeke Emezi is an extremely talented young writer, just 29 years old. She is Igbo-Tamil, from Aba, Nigeria and now lives in Brooklyn and Trinidad. Set predominantly in America, Freshwater is closely based on Emezi’s own experiences with her mental health, and draws from Igbo religion. Lyrical and intense, hers is a totally fresh new voice.
We have had an astonishing first response, both in-house and from blurbers. Taiye Selasi called Emezi “an old—an ancient—storyteller: thrillingly at home in the tradition of griots, poets, seers and seekers” and Daniel José Older called it a “masterpiece” in his blurb, twice. German rights have been pre-empted and there is already significant interest from other publishers around the world.
Told from the perspectives of multiple selves, this unconventional and beautifully written novel explores mental health from a non-Western perspective. Emezi was herself diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, the new diagnosis for what was previously termed “multiple personality disorder”.
Emezi was awarded the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa for her story Who Is Like God. Her memoir work was selected and edited by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and one of her essays was selected for FADER’s “Best Culture Writing of 2015.” She received a 2015 Morland Writing Scholarship and is a 2016 Kimbilio Fellow.
Freshwater has aesthetic origins in Igbo religion and imagery connected to her own name. “Akwaeke” translates to “python’s egg”—an image that is central to the novel. The python is a physical manifestation of several Igbo deities, and its egg is considered to be precious, a child of a god.
Emezi refuses to write conventional “African” fiction—her voice is raw, deeply personal, dark, somewhat experimental, and unlike anything that has been published before.
Outreach to writers including Marlon James, Ben Okri, Edwidge Danticat, Yaa Gyasi, Lidia Yuknavitch, Alexandra Kleeman, and others for blurbs.
Emezi is also a visual artist and was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant by the Astraea Foundation in 2017 for her video art. 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.