Spiritfirst: Akwaeke Emezi with Saidiya Hartman

Tue. Jun 8, 2021 7:00pm - 8:00pm EDT
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Event Description

The bestselling author shares their debut work of nonfiction, Dear Senthuran, a memoir that "deeply engages with the metaphysics of Black spirit and singularly faces the Black reader."

"I wrote it spiritfirst, without disguise," bestselling author Akwaeke Emezi wrote of their memoir, Dear Senthuran. In three critically acclaimed novels, Emezi introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. In Dear Senthuran, they reveal the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane.

Akwaeke Emezi speaks with Saidiya Hartman about their revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival.

This event is produced in partnership with The Schomburg Center Literary Festival.The Schomburg Literary Festival (June 14 - 19) expands the center's long tradition of championing authors of African descent from across the globe and publications that celebrate Black history and culture. 

This program will be streamed live on the NYPL event page.

A live transcript will be provided. ASL interpretation is available upon request. Please submit your request at least two weeks in advance by emailing accessibility@nypl.org. A pre-filled Gmail template is available by clicking hereAny media will be accompanied by alt text to reference before the program or by audio description.

Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Death of Vivek Oji, which was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize; Pet, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature; and Freshwater, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and shortlisted fort the PEN/Hemingway Award, The New York Public LibraryYoung Lions Fiction Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. Selected as 5 under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation, they are based in liminal spaces. 

Saidiya Hartman is the author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful ExperimentsLose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, and Scenes of Subjection. A MacArthur Genius Fellow, she has been a Guggenheim Fellow, Cullman Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. In addition to her books, she has published articles in journals such as South Atlantic Quarterly, Brick, Small AxeCallaloo,BombThe New Yorker and The Paris Review. She is a professor at Columbia University and lives in New York. 


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LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

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Saidiya Hartman © Steven Gregory


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