Jean Rhys said that "reading makes immigrants of us all," that "it takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere." Now more than ever, it's vital—and heartening—to read, and read widely. We'll read thrilling, mind-blowing, intriguing, heartbreaking, comic, strange, and/or provocative books by women of color—and, each month, we'll gather to talk about what we've read! When possible, we'll also have the writer join us.
Our winter book is FRESHWATER by Akwaeke Emezi. We encourage you to pick up the book from a library or local bookstore: Alley Cat and Dog-Eared are two neighborhood favorites.
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, Freshwateris 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.