Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What I Read: Freshwater

I can't deal with how good this book is, y'all!

Image courtesy Grove Atlantic

I got a free ebook copy from NetGalley but it's times like these I wish I was eligible for receiving dead tree versions because I want to press this book into people's hands and say YOU NEED TO READ THIS RIGHT NOW. You can't do that with an .epub file.

I was especially glad for Freshwater, I think, because right before I read it I had finished Ancient, Ancient, a collection of ostensibly Afro-futurism short stories that had way too much blurb hype on the covers for what it actually was. But Freshwater tapped into that vein of timeless urges (sex, death, blood, deities, demons) that Ancient, Ancient claimed to tackle and delivered a coherent, shining python egg of a novel.

Freshwater is about Ada, a young Nigerian woman who houses, among other beings, an ogbanje inside her? Or is perhaps simply unwell? We follow her through childhood, then in university in the American south, and then adult life afterwards, as she tries to figure out who she is and to navigate through her relationships with the others inside of her: Smoke and Shadow, Asugara, and St. Vincent. But most of the story comes from their perspective rather than "the Ada's."

The voice and language in Freshwater are captivating and distinctive, experimental without being alienating. This is the first book in a long time where I felt compelled to read more: after reading on the subway, I'd keep reading on the walk back to the apartment and even after I got home, standing in the doorway, coat and hat still on. Emezi is a shining goddamn star and we don't deserve her. #BlackGirlMagic strikes again.

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