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‘One of the most moving books of the new year’ STYLIST

‘Gorgeous and unsettling’ NEW YORK TIMES

‘Brilliant and devastating…tender and lacerating’ PANDORA SYKES

‘One of the literary world’s most promising new voices’ RED

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.

Reviews

One of the literary world's most promising new voices . . . An intimate look behind the division of today's world.
Red
Triumphant: the survivor's account of a thoughtful, passionate young writer grappling with life's demons
Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine
Gripping . . . Tackling themes of belonging, identity, race, notions of home and the ripple effects of trauma . . . Owusu's prose is as poignant as it is emotionally charged . . . Triumphant.
Cosmopolitan
Striking
Vogue US
Owusu's personal history intertwines with the political and geographical to create one of the most moving books of the new year.
Stylist
In a literary landscape rich with diaspora memoirs, Owusu's painful yet radiant story rises to the forefront. The daughter of an Armenian-American mother who abandoned her and a heroic Ghanaian father who died when she was thirteen, Nadia drifted across continents in a trek that she renders here with poetic, indelible prose.
Oprah.com
An engaging and reflective new memoir focused on universal themes of home, abandonment, identity and autonomy.
Ms. Magazine
A memoir that broods on lost identity and statelessness.
Elle UK
This earth-shattering memoir uses the aftershock - both literal and metaphorical - as a framing device and inspiration. Owusu explores the geopolitical, geological, and psychological traumas that have marked her young life, from moving between countries across Africa and Europe as the daughter of a United Nations employee to her estrangement from her mother and her father's eventual death, as well as living through a civil war in Ethiopia and the 9/11 attacks (to name a few!).
Entertainment Weekly
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 <i>Saltwater</i>
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.
Xiaolu Guo, author of <i>Once Upon a Time in the East</i> and <i>A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers</i>
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 <i>Negroland: A Memoir</i>
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 <i>New York Times</i> bestseller <i>Friday Black</i>
Aftershocks is more than just a book - it is delicate, intricate choreography. This memoir is a testimony to how certain books and writers can tell you their story in a way that mirrors your own. Even if the facts of that story are different, the emotion is familiar. Owusu is that writer. She has created a book full of shared emotional memories and I wanted to sit in those memories with her for as long as I could. Nadia Owusu is powerful, beautiful, poetic, and Aftershocks is a testimony to her commitment to constructing towering, lovingly-rendered sentences. Quite simply, Aftershocks is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
Bassey Ikpi, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>I'm Lying but I'm telling the Truth</i>
Aftershocks is a triptych feat of style: the lucid language, the masterful handling of time, the brilliance of its seismic theme. It's also an astute exploration of the long legacy of colonialism. Owusu is a product of that political and cultural collision, and one of the great gifts of this compelling memoir is the moving narrative of her reconciling that identity. And if that weren't enough, Aftershocks is an indelible portrait of Owusu's resilience in the face of almost unfathomable familial trauma as well as her immortal love for her father.
Mitchell S. Jackson, author of <i>Survival Math</i>
A stunning, visceral book about the ways that our stories-of loss, of love, of borders-leave permanent marks on our bodies and minds.
Booklist
Extraordinary . . . A writer to watch.
<i>Bookseller</i>, Editor’s Choice
Engrossing . . . an impressive debut memoir. [Owusu is] a promising writer.
Kirkus
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.
Publisher's Weekly
Brilliant and devastating, this memoir is an exploration of displacement, told through earthquakes both real and allegorical. Nadia, abandoned by her mother as a young child, and moved all over the world by a diplomat father, writes about her struggle to find a peace she can call home in a way that is both tender and lacerating.
Pandora Sykes
Aftershocks is brilliant and devastating. Nadia Owusu employs language with precision and care, reckoning with herself and her various histories with a beautiful, tender rhythm. Her words will stay with me for a long time.
Caleb Azumah Nelson, author of <i>Open Water</i>
A devastating memoir about identity, immigration and fractured society from the daughter of an Armenian American mother and Ghanaian father.
Independent
A stunningly written, heart wrenching book that completely took me by surprise. The best book I've read so far this year.
Abi Dare, author of <i>The Girl With the Louding Voice</i>
A beautiful and ultimately redemptive story, written in lyrical prose that calls to mind Audre Lorde, Natasha Trethewey, and Toni Morrison.
Vogue.com, The Absolute Best Summer Reads
A timely memoir, revealing the real lives behind the headlines of immigration that dominate our media, as Owusu - who grew up in Rome, Dar-es-Salaam, Addis Ababa, Kumasi, Kampala and London - shares her fascinating story.
Grazia