Faber & Faber has acquired a "dazzling" debut novel by Akwaeke Emezi which explores "multiple and marginalised realities".
Narrated from the perspectives of the various selves within Ada, and based in the author's realities, Freshwater explores the metaphysics of identity and being, said Faber.
"Ada was born with one foot on the other side. Having prayed her into existence, her parents Saul and Saachi struggle to deal with the volatile and contradictory spirits peopling their troubled girl. When Ada comes of age and heads to college, the entities within her grow in power and agency," Faber said. "Feeling explodes through the language of this scalding novel, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice."
Emezi said: "I'm deeply interested in multiple and marginalized realities, particularly those suppressed by colonialism, and what it can look like when we step away from what we know to allow for other ways of being. In writing this book, centering Igbo ontology was crucial to processing how one navigates embodiment and concurrent realities. It's my profound hope that Freshwater reaches everyone who needs this story to remind them that their worlds, too, are real."
Editorial director Louisa Joyner signed UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to Freshwater from Alba Ziegler-Bailey at The Wylie Agency.
Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go (Penguin), has described the novel as "sheer perfection: sexy, sensual, spiritual, wise. One of the most dazzling debuts I’ve ever read". While NoViolet Bulawayo, Man Booker-shortlisted author of We Need New Names (Vintage) has described Emezi as "a major, exhilarating talent".
Joyner said: "Freshwater is unforgettable, it’s a rare and glorious novel that manages to embrace linguistic complexity without losing any of its emotional force. Akwaeke Emezi is a blazing talent and I’m excited for all who have yet to discover her."
Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and artist based in liminal spaces. Born and raised in Nigeria, she received her MPA from New York University. She was awarded a 2015 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa. Her work has been selected and edited by Chimamanda Adichie, and published in various literary magazines, including Granta.
The novel is set for publication in November 2018.