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Nadia Owusu: Aftershocks

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Whiting Award–winner Nadia Owusu’s Aftershocks is a deeply felt memoir 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. The instability wrought by her nomadic childhood was deepened by family secrets and fractures, both lived and inherited. Her Armenian American mother, who abandoned Nadia when she was two, periodically reappeared, only to vanish again. After her Ghanian father died when she was thirteen, Nadia’s stepmother weighed her down with a revelation that was either a bombshell secret or a lie, rife with shaming innuendo.  Aftershocks embodies the author’s emergence from the wreckage of her life’s perpetual quaking, is the means by which she has come to understand that the only ground firm enough to count on is the one written into existence by her own hand.


“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 AdjeiI-Brenyah, author of New York Times bestseller Friday Black


Nadia Owusu is a Brooklyn-based writer and urban planner. 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 TimesThe Washington Post’s The LilyLiterary ReviewElectric LiteratureEpiphany, and Catapult. Aftershocks is her first book.