Akwaeke Emezi’s Debut Memoir, Dear Senthuran, Chronicles the Self & Black Spirituality

The Nigerian novelist’s debut book of nonfiction “weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, and the turmoil of relationships.”
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Akwaeke Emezi. From @azemezi on Instagram.

Akwaeke Emezi. From @azemezi on Instagram.

Akwaeke Emezi has announced their debut book of nonfiction. They describe Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir as an intimate book in which they chronicle their journey as a “spirit” and writer. Spanning 240 pages, the book focuses on family, the self, and Igbo spirituality.

Dear Senthuran has been named a “Most Anticipated Book of the Year” by Harper’s Bazaar, BuzzFeed, The Advocate, Lit Hub, Book Page, and Paperback Paris.

Here is a synopsis from its publisher Riverhead Books:

In this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life.

Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world.

Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal.

Electrifying and inspiring, animated by the same voracious intelligence that distinguishes their fiction, Dear Senthuran is a revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival.

Emezi is the author of three novels. Their first, Freshwater, was a New York Times Notable Book; it was shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. It was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, making them the first trans writer to be nominated. Pet, their second novel, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Their most recent, The Death of Vivek Oji, is a New York Times bestseller. The US National Book Foundation named them a “5 Under 35” honoree.

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“As someone who’s been carefully curating their public image for years,” Emezi tweeted, “it feels almost dangerous to write so honestly, but the final result is a text that I love, one that deeply engages with the metaphysics of Black spirit & singularly faces the Black reader.”

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir is forthcoming from Riverhead Books on 8 June 2021.

Ernest Ogunyemi
Ernest O. Ògunyemi is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Joyland, Tinderbox, Sierra Nevada Review, Journal Nine, The Indianapolis Review, Down River Road, Capsule Stories, No Tokens, The West Review, The Dark Magazine, Mud Season Review, Isele, and in the anthology 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry III. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets Anthology.
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The novelist—Open Country Mag’s December 2020 cover star—is recognized for her “unflinching, unswerving gaze,” having “charted the development of Zimbabwe from a British colony to an autocratic and troubled free state.”
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