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InstaReview: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

"Understand this if you understand nothing: it is a powerful thing to be seen."

Freshwater is a deeply surreal story narrated by a girl with "one foot on the other side" and the chorus of selves that reside in her fractured mind. It explores trauma, self-awareness, and spiritual awakening through two somewhat oppositional lenses: the Nigerian mythos of mischievous gods (Ọgbanje) and Western clinical psychopathology. There is dissonance between how such a turbulent and fragmented sense of self is interpreted through these two frameworks - and that is part of the point. Humans are messy, complicated, and can't always be pigeonholed by one perspective.

Despite the heavy nature of the subject matter, the narrative voices can be as light and entertaining as they are devastating.

Since the book’s publishing, @azemezi has spoken openly about their own transitional surgeries as a “bridge across realities, a spirit customizing its vessel to reflect its nature”, so like the protagonist, they are no stranger to the dysphoria of labels and physical form. A remarkable debut and an absolutely fantastic read. Five🌟 !


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