Akwaeke Emezi is an lgbo and Tamil writer and video artist, best known for their debut novel Freshwater, a semi-autobiographical story starring a trans protagonist named Ada who is an ogbanje or "spirit child". Their second book, 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. A third book, titled The Death of Vivek Oji, is due out in 2020.
Emezi wrote Freshwater while working towards their Master's of Fine Arts degree at Syracuse University, and it was published in 2018. In 2019, it was nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction; this was the first time a trans or nonbinary author had been nominated for the prize. The judges were not aware of Emezi being nonbinary when Freshwater was selected (the book jacket referred to the author with "she/her"), but Emezi was reportedly happy to be among the selected.
Freshwater received multiple other accolades as well, including the African Speculative Fiction Society's 2019 Nommo Award for Best Novel and the 2019 Otherwise Award, for sci-fi and fantasy "works that expand and explore our understanding of gender". Otherwise Award juror Bogi Takács said, "Freshwater gives me hope, room to grow into myself as a reader, and a sense of relation that emerges across continents and traditions; with all our commonalities and differences". Variety.com reported that FX was developing a TV series based on the novel.
References[edit | edit source]
- de León, Concepción (9 September 2019). "'This Is a Possibility': Akwaeke Emezi Writes a Trans Story Where Nobody Gets Hurt". New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Emezi, Akwaeke (January 2018). "Transition". The Cut. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Akbar, Arifa (20 October 2018). "Akwaeke Emezi: 'I'd read everything – even the cereal box'". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Gray, Arielle (10 October 2018). "'Freshwater' Writer Akwaeke Emezi Reclaims Afro-Indigenous Spirituality Beyond Fable Or Mythology". wbur.org. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Bausells, Marta (21 February 2018). "The Nonbinary Author Centering African Narratives Erased by Colonialism". Vice. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Parsons, Vic (6 March 2019). "Opinion: Be careful before celebrating the recognition of Akwaeke Emezi". The Independent. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Wood, Heloise (2 April 2019). "Women's Prize to formulate new policy around gender criteria". TheBookseller.com. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
Professor Kate Williams, chair of judges, previously told the Guardian that the judges were not aware of Emezi’s gender identity when they selected Freshwater, but they did check that Emezi was happy to be longlisted before the announcement.
- "Announcing the 2019 Nommo Award Winners". Tor.com. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Lothian, Alexis (11 April 2020). "Akwaeke Emezi wins 2019 Otherwise Award! Honor List Announced". Otherwise Award. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Otterson, Joe (22 May 2019). "FX to Develop Series Adaptation of Akwaeke Emezi's 'Freshwater' With Tamara P. Carter (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
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