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Book Release: Akwaeke Emezi's Freshwater


Release date (US) by Grove Atlantic: February 13, 2018.

Release date (Nigeria) by Farafina: May, 2018.

Release date (UK) by Faber & Faber: November, 2018.




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, heart-wrenching, 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: Asughara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves—now protective, now hedonistic—take control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Told from the perspective of the various selves within Ada, and closely based on the author’s own personal experiences, 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.



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.

Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go


...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 Under The Udala Trees

Read here why this book topped our list of most anticipated 2018 reads.

Earlier Event: 3 February
Celebrating Buchi Emecheta (London)
Later Event: 1 March
Quarter Life Crisis (Lagos)