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Aftershocks : A Memoir
by Nadia Owusu




Overview -
In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this "gorgeous" (The New York Times, Editors' Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the "incredible story" (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

"In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl--abandoned by her mother at age two and orphaned at thirteen when her beloved father dies--find her place in the world? This memoir is the story of Nadia creating her own solid ground across countries and continents. I know the struggle of rebuilding your life in an unfamiliar place. While some of you might be familiar with that and some might not, I hope you'll take as much inspiration and hope from her story as I did." --MALALA YOUSAFZAI

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2021 SELECTED BY VULTURE, TIME, ESQUIRE, NPR, AND VOGUE

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.

"A magnificent, complex assessment of selfhood and why it matters" (Elle), Aftershocks depicts 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.

"Full of narrative risk and untrammeled lyricism" (The Washington Post), 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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More About Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

 
 
 

Overview

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this "gorgeous" (The New York Times, Editors' Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the "incredible story" (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

"In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl--abandoned by her mother at age two and orphaned at thirteen when her beloved father dies--find her place in the world? This memoir is the story of Nadia creating her own solid ground across countries and continents. I know the struggle of rebuilding your life in an unfamiliar place. While some of you might be familiar with that and some might not, I hope you'll take as much inspiration and hope from her story as I did." --MALALA YOUSAFZAI

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2021 SELECTED BY VULTURE, TIME, ESQUIRE, NPR, AND VOGUE

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.

"A magnificent, complex assessment of selfhood and why it matters" (Elle), Aftershocks depicts 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.

"Full of narrative risk and untrammeled lyricism" (The Washington Post), 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.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781982111229
  • ISBN-10: 1982111224
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: January 2021
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.01 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Aftershocks

An earthquake isn’t a single moment. The event itself might be destructive, rending the earth apart and slamming it together along fault lines, but the effects begin before that moment and can extend long after the fracture.

Nadia Owusu plays with this metaphor in Aftershocks. Her father’s death when Owusu was in her early teens was a central tremor in her life. Owusu adored her father, whose work with the United Nations carried the family across continents. Her relationships with her mothers were more complicated: her birth mother, who abandoned Owusu and her sister after their parents’ divorce; her aunt, who took the girls in afterward; and her stepmother, with whom Owusu competed for her father’s attention. Later, when her stepmother suggested that Owusu’s father may not have died of the cancer listed on his death certificate, Owusu wrestled with her understanding of the family that raised her.

“Sometimes I think my memories are more about what didn’t happen than what did, who wasn’t there than who was,” Owusu writes. “My memories are about leaving and being left. They are about absence.”

Owusu’s complex racial and national identities also inform her sense of self. The nationalities of her Ghanaian father, Armenian American birth mother and Tanzanian stepmother influence Owusu’s daily life, and moving between continents—Africa, Europe, North America—leaves her feeling even more out of place. Owusu, a Whiting Award-winning writer and urban planner, explores how those cultures have intersected with and influenced her personal experiences.

Aftershocks is an intimate work told in an imaginative style, with the events that shaped its author rippling throughout her nonlinear story. The structure mimics the all-consuming effect that a moment—a personal earthquake—can have on a life.

 

BAM Customer Reviews