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Aftershocks: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Identity

Nadia Owusu

5 Reviews

Rated 0

Memoirs

An exceptional memoir about race, family and belonging for a moment when identity and division dominate our global politics

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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Praise for Aftershocks: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Identity

  • In her enthralling memoir, Whiting Award-winner Owusu (So Devilish a Fire) assesses the impact of key events in her life via the metaphor of earthquakes . . . Readers will be moved by this well-wrought memoir.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

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