Akwaeke Emezi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Akwaeke Emezi (born 1987, Umuahia, Nigeria) is an lgbo and Tamil writer and video artist, best known for their debut novel Freshwater.[1][2]

Personal Life[edit]

Growing up in Aba, Nigeria, Emezi and their sister Yagazie[3] used storytelling to escape the riots, dictatorship, and dangerous reality of their childhoods.[4] Emezi began writing short stories when they were five years old.[5] They received their MPA from New York University.[6]

Emezi uses the personal pronouns they/them/theirs.[7][8]


Freshwater tells the semi-autobiographical story of the protagonist, Ada, who is an ogbanje. Emezi explores their Igbo heritage's spirituality and gender alongside those of Western construction and invites their audience to think critically about this spirit/body binary.[1][9]


The New Yorker called Freshwater "a startling début novel";[10] The Guardian called it "a remarkable debut";[11] and the LA Times called it "dazzling".[12] Freshwater was longlisted for numerous significant awards.[13] Freshwater was a New York Times Notable Book,[14] was named a Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker[15] and NPR.[16] and was called a New York Times Notable Book.[14] Emezi is also recognized as a 2018 National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree.[17]

In 2019, Freshwater was nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction — the first time a non-binary transgender author has been nominated for the prize. Kate Williams, the chair of the judges, called it a "historic moment". Williams said that the panel did not know Emezi was non-binary when the book was chosen, but she said Emezi was happy to be nominated.[18] Non-binary commentator Vic Parsons wrote that the nomination raised uncomfortable questions, asking: "would a non-binary author who was assigned male at birth have been longlisted? I highly doubt it."[19] After the nomination, it was announced that the Women's Prize Trust was working on new guidelines for transgender, non-binary, and genderfluid authors.[20]

Other Works[edit]

Pet, released on September 10, 2019, is about a transgender teenager named Jam living in a world where adults refuse to acknowledge the existence of monsters.[21]

Emezi signed a two-book deal with Riverhead Books. The first, The Death of Vivek Oji, is expected to come out on August 4, 2020, and is available for pre-order.[22][23]

Awards and Nominations[edit]




  1. ^ a b Mzezewa, Tariro (2018-02-26). "In This Debut Novel, a College Student Hears Voices". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  2. ^ "CV". Akwaeke Emezi. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  3. ^ Leibovitz, Annie. "5 Families Who Are Changing The World as We Know It". Vogue. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  4. ^ "39: Akwaeke Emeziwriter and video artist". Mythos Magazine. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  5. ^ "A Spirit Born into a Human Body: Talking with Akwaeke Emezi". The Rumpus.net. 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  6. ^ Freshwater | Grove Atlantic.
  7. ^ Bausells, Marta (21 February 2018). "The Nonbinary Author Centering African Narratives Erased by Colonialism". Vice.
  8. ^ Emezi, Akwaeke (2018-01-19). "Transition". The Cut. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  9. ^ "In 'Freshwater,' A College Student Learns To Live With Separate Selves". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  10. ^ Waldman, Katy (2018-02-26). "A Startling Début Novel Explores the Freedom of Being Multiple". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  11. ^ Adébáyò, Ayòbámi (2018-11-15). "Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi review – a remarkable debut". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  12. ^ Straight, Susan. "A dazzling, devastating novel: 'Freshwater' by Akwaeke Emezi". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  13. ^ a b "The Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize". www.bklynlibrary.org. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  14. ^ a b Times, The New York (2018-11-19). "100 Notable Books of 2018". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  15. ^ Waldman, Katy (2018-12-04). "The Best Books of 2018". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  16. ^ "NPR's Book Concierge Our Guide To 2018's Great Reads". apps.npr.org. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  17. ^ Schaub, Michael. "National Book Foundation unveils this year's '5 Under 35' picks". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  18. ^ a b Cain, Sian (2019-03-04). "Non-binary trans author nominated for Women's prize for fiction". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  19. ^ "Opinion: Be careful before celebrating the recognition of Akwaeke Emezi". The Independent. 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  20. ^ Wood, Heloise. "Women's Prize to formulate new policy around gender criteria". TheBookSeller.com. Retrieved 2020-03-21.
  21. ^ "Pet by Akwaeke Emezi: 9780525647072 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  22. ^ "The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi: 9780525541608 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  23. ^ "'This Is a Possibility': Akwaeke Emezi Writes a Trans Story Where Nobody Gets Hurt". New York Times. 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  24. ^ "Akwaeke Emezi Bio: Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo/Tamil... - globalartsfund". Global Arts Fund 2017. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  25. ^ "Global Arts Fund Archives - Page 2 of 4". Astraea Lesbian Foundation For Justice. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  26. ^ "Who Is Like God". Granta Magazine. 2017-06-13. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  27. ^ "Literary Birthday – 6 June – Akwaeke Emezi". Writers Write. 2019-06-05. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  28. ^ https://www.tor.com/2019/10/25/announcing-the-2019-nommo-award-winners/
  29. ^ "Nommo 2019: Novel Nominations - African Speculative Fiction Society". www.africansfs.com. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  30. ^ Lothian, Alexis (2020-04-11). "Akwaeke Emezi wins 2019 Otherwise Award! Honor List Announced « Otherwise Award". Otherwise Award. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  31. ^ "2020 Walter Awards". We Need Diverse Books. 2020-01-21. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  32. ^ "AKWAEKE EMEZI". Aspen Words. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  33. ^ "7 Tips on Writing Fiction from Aspen Words Literary Prize Nominees". The Aspen Institute. 2019-01-10. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  34. ^ "2019 PEN/Hemingway Award Finalists Announced | The Hemingway Society". www.hemingwaysociety.org. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  35. ^ "Akwaeke Emezi". Women's Prize for Fiction. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  36. ^ "The Center for Fiction". www.centerforfiction.org. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  37. ^ "Andrew Carnegie Medals Longlist | Awards & Grants". www.ala.org. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  38. ^ "Young Lions Fiction Award Finalists". locusmag.com. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  39. ^ "The 2019 National Book Awards Finalists Announced". National Book Foundation. 2019-10-07. Retrieved 2019-10-09.

External links[edit]