Ada was born with one foot on the other side. Having prayed her into existence, her parents Saul and Saachi struggle to deal with the volatile and contradictory spirits peopling their troubled girl.

When Ada comes of age and heads to college, the entities within her grow in power and agency. An assault leads to a crystallization of her selves: As?ghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves – now protective, now hedonistic – seize control of Ada, her life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Narrated from the perspectives of the various selves within Ada, and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater explores the metaphysics of identity and being. Feeling explodes through the language of this scalding novel, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.

Read an excerpt of Freshwater.


Akwaeke Emezi Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. Freshwater, which was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in fiction by the American Library Association, is their debut novel. They make their young adult debut with Pet – a National Book Award finalist. They are an honoree on the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” list, a long-list nominee for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and a short-list nominee for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. Their sophomore adult novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, is forthcoming in 2020 from Riverhead.

Get Into It

BOMB Magazine

Interview with Akwaeke Emezi

“My work is about inhabiting realities that people don’t consider real or valid. People are going to push back against that in all kinds of ways. “

The Guardian

Review: Freshwater

This bildungsroman about a character whose essence is rooted in Igbo cosmology begins by inextricably linking her consciousness with cosmic forces that existed long before she was born.