A haunting debut novel set in contemporary Nigeria and the US, about a girl of Igbo ethnicity whose nature is both human and divine. She was born with multiple selves, each under the domain of a different ogbanje, dark spirits of the Igbo belief system.
The novel is based in many of the realities of the writer's life, but the prose is infused with imaginative lyricism and tone. In the end, this coming-of-age novel also has one foot on the other side, held between the open gates — a young woman of many nations and many souls. The journey undertaken in the novel is swirling and vivid, vicious and painful, and rendered by Emezi in shards as sharp and glittering as those with which Ada cuts her forearms and thighs, in blood offering to Asughara ... Emezi’s lyrical writing, her alliterative and symmetrical prose, explores the deep questions of otherness, of a single heart and soul hovering between, the gates open, fighting for peace.
...[a] witchy, electrifying story of danger and compulsion ... Ms. Emezi has wholly reshaped and reinvigorated the painful spectacle by imagining it from the perspective of the trickster gods who possess her ... Its conclusion is as striking and mysterious as the ways of the gods who narrate it. In recent years, books like Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen and Ayobami Adebayo’s Stay With Me have found new angles of perception for familiar stories of love and grief. Ms. Emezi’s debut is the latest standout in this exciting boom in the Nigerian novel.
In all the ways that the story of Freshwater is extraordinary, the ordinary moments—of love, of small cruelties, and of traumas—also emerge, resounding ... What it does...is show that the truth exists in multiple forms. There is not, nor can there be, solely one. And within this truth, somewhere, exists Emezi’s. Filled with beautiful, lush sentences, through Freshwater, Emezi offers us a lens into their world and creates a stunning landscape in the process. The novel explores the trauma of a life as worthy of being seen, and we should all be grateful for this contribution.