This poetic, genre-bending work—blending memoir with cultural history—from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma.
Nadia Owusu grew up all over the world—from Rome and London to Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala. When her mother abandoned her when she was two years old, the rejection caused Nadia to be confused about her identity. Even after her father died when she was thirteen and she was raised by her stepmother, she was unable to come to terms with who she was since she still felt motherless and alone.
When Nadia went to university in America when she was eighteen she still felt as if she had so many competing personas that she couldn’t keep track of them all without cracking under the pressure of trying to hold herself together. A powerful coming-of-age story that explores timely and universal themes of identity, Aftershocks follows Nadia’s life as she hauls herself out of the wreckage and begins to understand that the only ground firm enough to count on is the one she writes into existence.
Nadia Owusu is a Brooklyn-based writer and urban planner. Her lyric essay chapbook, So Devilish a Fire, was a winner of the TAR chapbook series and was published in 2019. Nadia grew up in Rome, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Dar-es-Salaam, Kumasi, and London. By day, she leads research and racial equity at Living Cities, an economic racial justice organization. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, LUMINA, The Literary Review, Catapult, The Cossack Review, Columbia Journal, Assignment, The Rumpus, and the Bennington Review. She is a graduate of Pace University, Hunter College, and the Mountainview MFA program where she now teaches and where she won the Robert J. Begeibing Prize for exceptional work.
'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