Aftershocks: Book summary and reviews of Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

Aftershocks

by Nadia Owusu

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu X
Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu
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Book Summary

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, a deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award–winner Nadia Owusu about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

Young Nadia Owusu followed her father, a United Nations official, from Europe to Africa and back again. Just as she and her family settled into a new home, her father would tell them it was time to say their goodbyes. The instability wrought by Nadia's nomadic childhood was deepened by family secrets and fractures, both lived and inherited. Her Armenian American mother, who abandoned Nadia when she was two, would periodically reappear, only to vanish again. Her father, a Ghanaian, the great hero of her life, died when she was thirteen. After his passing, Nadia's stepmother weighed her down with a revelation that was either a bombshell secret or a lie, rife with shaming innuendo.

With these and other ruptures, Nadia arrived in New York as a young woman feeling stateless, motherless, and uncertain about her future, yet eager to find her own identity. What followed, however, were periods of depression in which she struggled to hold herself and her siblings together.

Aftershocks is the way she hauled herself from the wreckage of her life's perpetual quaking, the means by which she has finally come to understand that the only ground firm enough to count on is the one written into existence by her own hand.

Heralding a dazzling new writer, Aftershocks joins the likes of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and William Styron's Darkness Visible, and does for race identity what Maggie Nelson does for gender identity in The Argonauts.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In her enthralling memoir, Whiting Award–winner Owusu assesses the impact of key events in her life via the metaphor of earthquakes...Readers will be moved by this well-wrought memoir." - Publishers Weekly

"Though the prose is sometimes self-consciously stylistic and the earthquake metaphor strains by the end, this is still an impressive debut memoir. An engrossing, occasionally overwrought memoir by a promising writer." - Kirkus Reviews

"Owusu's yearning for a maternal figure and acceptance of her identity surround this moving memoir. Recommended for readers who enjoy stories of identity and multiculturalism." - Library Journal

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

"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

"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. She spends her life moving between Europe, Africa and New York, reeling from her mother's desertion and her father's death. 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, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

"Nadia Owusu's Aftershocks bleeds honesty. It is a majestically rendered telling of all the history, hurt and love a body can contain. A wonderful work of art made of so many stories and histories it is bursting with both harshness and perseverance. An incredible debut." - Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of New York Times bestseller Friday Black

This information about Aftershocks shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Nadia Owusu

Nadia Owusu is a Brooklyn-based writer and urban planner. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her lyric essay So Devilish a Fire won the Atlas Review chapbook contest. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New York Times, the Washington Post's The Lily, Literary Review, Electric Literature, Epiphany, and Catapult. Aftershocks is her first book.

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