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Akwaeke Emezi

Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Akwaeke Emezi received a Morland Writing Scholarship and is a Kimbilio Fellow. Emezi’s writing has been published by The Cut, Buzzfeed, Granta Online, Vogue.com, and Commonwealth Writers, among others. Currently long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, their debut autobiographical novel FRESHWATER (Grove Press) is a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and an Indies Introduce Title. FRESHWATER was also recognized on 2018 best/most anticipated books lists by Esquire, ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Bustle, OZY, Electric Lit, and Book Riot, among others. Learn more about Akwaeke at Akwaeke.com or on Twitter at @azemezi.

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Pet: The human meets the divine, and both are changed

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

“There shouldn’t be any monsters left in Lucille.” The city of Lucille is a utopia. A generation ago, a resistance toppled all the monsters — monsters in this case meaning people: unjust politicians, bigots, predators. The leaders of the revolution are now called “angels” and are revered as elders. Jam is a teenage girl growing up in Lucille, and she appreciates the better world the angels built; as a black trans girl, she knows the world that came before would not have been as welcoming to her. But she still has questions that her teachers are hesitant to answer.

Jam’s life changes when she accidentally brings to life a strange, feathered creature from one of her mother’s paintings. The creature tells Jam to call it Pet, and that it is here to hunt a monster. The monster, Pet says, lives in the home of Jam’s best friend, Redemption. Jam’s parents insist that Pet must be mistaken, because t... Read More

The Death of Vivek Oji: ”Beautyful” writing

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

On the same day a riot destroys the market in Ngwa, Nigeria, the body of Vivek Oji is left on his parents’ doorstep, naked except for a length of cloth. Gradually, through a variety of points of view, Akwaeke Emezi unfolds the story of Vivek’s life and death, and how that death affects Vivek’s loved ones — drawing some people closer together, driving faultlines between others.

Readers who’ve read Emezi’s earlier work might expect more supernatural elements than The Death of Vivek Oji (2020) actually contains. This short novel is mostly a realistic story, with two exceptions: Vivek occasionally narrates from beyond the grave, and it is implied that reincarnation exists. However, I think readers who enjoy Emezi’s “beautyful” writing (you’ll have to read the... Read More