31 Days 31 Trans Voices | Day 15: Akwaeke Emezi, I Can Make Worlds

Akwaeke Emezi is a writer and video artist based in liminal spaces and a 2018 National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35’ honoree. Their sophomore adult novel, THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI, has beennamed one of the most anticipated books of the year by The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and Library Journal. It is forthcoming from Riverhead Books on August 4, 2020 and is available for pre-order now.

Emezi’s debut YA novel PET (Make Me a World/Random House Children’s Books) received a 2020 Walter Honor and was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature as well as an Indie Next selection, debuting with five starred reviews from KirkusPublishers WeeklySchool Library Journal, Bookpage, and Bulletin. It has been named a 2019 Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Apple, and Amazon, among others. Emezi was recently featured in Kirkus Reviews and profiled in The New York Times.

“FX is in early development on a series based on Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel “Freshwater,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The series focuses on Ada, a Nigerian student in her final year of college who finds out that she has three spirits living in her subconscious. They eventually take control of her, threatening to ruin her life and sanity.

Emezi will write and executive produce the project along with Tamara P. Carter. FX Productions will produce with Kevin Wandell and Lindsey Donahue overseeing the project for FX.

“Freshwater” has drawn notable praise for Emezi. The novel is a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction.

Akwaeke Emezi | Photo Elizabeth Wirija

Translated into ten languages, FRESHWATER was a New York Times Notable Book as well as a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, and a Lambda Literary Award. It was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, The Wellcome Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and named a 2018 Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker, NPR, the Chicago Public Library, and Buzzfeed. FRESHWATER debuted as an Indies Introduce Title, receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, the Guardian, and the LA Times, among others. Emezi was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and profiled in the February 2018 issue of Vogue Magazine (Modern Families With A Cause), and their video art series THE UNBLINDING premiered at Gavin Brown’s enterprise in Harlem. Their short story ‘Who Is Like God‘ won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa.

Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Emezi was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant in 2017 for the video art in their project The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction. Their writing has been published by T Magazine, Dazed Magazine, The Cut, Buzzfeed, Granta Online, Vogue.com, and Commonwealth Writers, among others. Their memoir work was included in The Fader’s ‘Best Culture Writing of 2015’ (‘Who Will Claim You?‘) and their experimental short UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival.

“Freshwater” has drawn notable praise for Emezi. The novel is a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction.

Emezi is currently making video art and working on their sixth novel. For their upcoming events, click here.

For film/TV, literary inquiries, invitations, etc:

Jacqueline Ko, Agent | 212-246-0069


Terry Willits

Trans Speak's Editor-in-Chief is an international mixed media artist, writer, LGBTQ advocate, coffee snob, dog dad, and FTM transgender - but not necessarily in that order, who practices what he posts. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; he now does the writing thing from St. Louis, Missouri. You should check out his work - it's recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend stuff.

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