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Aftershocks - Nadia Owusu

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Aftershocks - dispatches from the frontlines of identity
Nadia Owusu
UK Publication Date

I have lived in disaster and disaster has lived in me. Our shared languages are thunder and reverberation.

When Nadia Owusu was two years old her mother abandoned her and her baby sister and fled from Tanzania back to the US. When she was thirteen her beloved Ghanaian father died of cancer. She and her sister were left alone, with a stepmother they didn't like, adrift.

Nadia Owusu is a woman of many languages, homelands and identities. She grew up in Rome, Dar-es-Salaam, Addis Ababa, Kumasi, Kampala and London. And for every new place there was a new language, a new identity and a new home. At times she has felt stateless, motherless and identity-less. At others, she has had multiple identities at war within her. It's no wonder she started to feel fault lines in her sense of self. It's no wonder that those fault lines eventually ruptured.

Aftershocks is the account of how she hauled herself out of the wreckage. It is the intimate story behind the news of immigration and division dominating contemporary politics. Nadia Owusu's astonishingly moving and incredibly timely memoir is a nuanced portrait of globalisation from the inside in a fractured world in crisis.

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Nadia Owusu is a Brooklyn-based writer and urban planner. Her lyric essay chapbook, So Devilish a Fire, was a winner of The Atlas Review chapbook series and was published in 2019. Nadia grew up in Rome, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Kumasi, and London. By day, she is the director of storytelling at Frontline Solutions, a black-owned consulting firm that helps social-change organizations to define goals, execute plans, and evaluate impact. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New York Times, the Washington Post's The Lily, Orion, the Literary Review, the Paris Review Daily, Catapult,
Bon Apptit,
and others.

She is a graduate of Pace University (BA), Hunter College (MS), and the Mountainview MFA program where she now teaches and where she won the Robert J. Begeibing Prize for exceptional work.

One of the literary world's most promising new voices . . . An intimate look behind the division of today's world.

Triumphant: the survivor's account of a thoughtful, passionate young writer grappling with life's demons
Harper's Magazine - Claire Messud

Gripping . . . Tackling themes of belonging, identity, race, notions of home and the ripple effects of trauma . . . Owusu's prose is as poignant as it is emotionally charged . . . Triumphant.

Vogue US

Owusu's personal history intertwines with the political and geographical to create one of the most moving books of the new year.

In a literary landscape rich with diaspora memoirs, Owusu's painful yet radiant story rises to the forefront. The daughter of an Armenian-American mother who abandoned her and a heroic Ghanaian father who died when she was thirteen, Nadia drifted across continents in a trek that she renders here with poetic, indelible prose.

An engaging and reflective new memoir focused on universal themes of home, abandonment, identity and autonomy.
Ms. Magazine

A memoir that broods on lost identity and statelessness.
Elle UK

This earth-shattering memoir uses the aftershock - both literal and metaphorical - as a framing device and inspiration. Owusu explores the geopolitical, geological, and psychological traumas that have marked her young life, from moving between countries across Africa and Europe as the daughter of a United Nations employee to her estrangement from her mother and her father's eventual death, as well as living through a civil war in Ethiopia and the 9/11 attacks (to name a few!).
Entertainment Weekly

Brilliant and devastating, this memoir is an exploration of displacement, told through earthquakes both real and allegorical. Nadia, abandoned by her mother as a young child, and moved all over the world by a diplomat father, writes about her struggle to find a peace she can call home in a way that is both tender and lacerating.
Pandora Sykes

A white-hot interrogation of the stories we carry in our bodies and the power they have to tear us apart. Owusu illuminates the blood and bones wrought by our borders and teaches us the necessity of owning our narratives when personal and collective histories have been shattered by violence.
Jessica Andrews, author of Saltwater

In reading Aftershocks, I went on an incredible (and moving) journey with a young woman whose past and present play out across Africa, Europe and America. I felt acutely Owusu's pain and the joy of her self-discovery through her intense and intimate prose. What a moving and beautifully written personal history, one infused with questions of post-colonial identity and the challenge of modern womanhood. I loved the book. I loved her voice.
Xiaolu Guo, author of Once Upon a Time in the East and A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

Aftershocks is brilliant and devastating. Nadia Owusu employs language with precision and care, reckoning with herself and her various histories with a beautiful, tender rhythm. Her words will stay with me for a long time.
Caleb Azumah Nelson, author of Open Water

Nadia Owusu has lived multiple lives. And each has demanded much of her. She has met and surpassed those demands with her memoir, Aftershocks. Owusu is half-Armenian, half-Ghanaian; socially privileged and psychologically wounded. Her task and burden are threefold: to chronicle the historical wounds and legacies of each country; to chart her own descent into grief, mania and madness; to begin the work of emotional reconstruction. She does so with unerring honesty and in prose that is both rigorous and luminous.
Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland: A Memoir

Keyword Index
Emigration and immigration - Social aspects.|Identity (Psychology)|United States - Emigration and immigration - Social aspects.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages

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