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Queer@King's Reading Group: Akwaeke Emezi


1 Dec
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Thanks to Paweł Czerwiński for sharing their work on Unsplash.

As part of this term's series Transforming Identities, Adapting Texts, the Queer@King's reading group will discuss in this meeting passages from Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater. On their website, you can find a short summary of their debut autobiographical novel:

"Ada has always been unusual. As an infant in southern Nigeria, she is a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents successfully prayed her into existence, but something must have gone awry, as the young Ada becomes a troubled child, prone to violent fits of anger and grief. But Ada turns out to be more than just volatile. Born ‘with one foot on the other side,’ she begins to develop separate selves. When Ada travels to America for college, the selves crystallize into something more powerful. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these alters—now protective, now hedonistic—move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dangerous direction.

Written with stylistic brilliance and based on the author's realities, this raw and extraordinary debut explores the metaphysics of identity and being, plunging the reader into the mysteries of self. Unsettling, heart-wrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.”

Content Warnings (both in the book and secondary readings): Violent Language, Dysphoria, Graphic Descriptions of Body Modification.

Key reading: Passages from the novel will be provided to everyone who signs up via this page.

For a more comprehensive summary:

Livingstone, Josephine. ‘Freshwater: A Coming-of-Age Story Containing Multitudes’. In New Republic (March 2018).

Secondary Readings, in order of recommendation:

Emezi, Akwaeke. ‘Gender, Transition, & Ogbanje’. In The Cut (January 2018).

Folarin, Tope. ‘Can a Black Novelist Write Autofiction?’. In New Republic (October 2020).

For Further Reading:

Emezi, Akwaeke. ‘For Additional Material on Igbo Ontology’.

Everyone is welcome to attend - you do not need to be a member of King's College London or any other university.

The meeting will be hosted online on ZOOM. The meeting link will be emailed to participants ca. 30 minutes before the start of the meeting. Sign up for this event via this page is required.

Extracts from the key reading will be provided in advance of the meeting, along with some secondary material. Reading of the secondary sources is encouraged but not necessary for discussion.

At the start of the meeting, we will ask all participants to briefly introduce themselves. We would welcome it if you turn your camera on during introductions to help create a safe space.

If you have further questions, please email

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