by Clarence A. Haynes
2019 New York Times interview that Freshwater is “based in indigenous West African ontology” and features a main character, Ada, who is “a spirit trapped in flesh.” Ada is the embodiment of a type of child spirit known as ogbanje who, in an unusual turn, continues to have access to both the ethereal realm and the earthly realm of humans. Ada thus eventually develops separate selves, an occurrence which further shapes who she is when she travels to the U.S. to attend college and faces great trauma.
Taking on everything from colonialism to transgender identity, Emezi talked more about the book in The Guardian. Emezi has asserted that the autobiographical Freshwater should not be categorized as a form of magical realism or speculative fiction though authors who explore the fantastic are among her favorites, including Zen Cho, N.K. Jemisin and Terry Pratchett. We’ll be sure to present discussion questions via the blog on this richly textured work a few days before meeting. We hope you can join us.