1994. The world is about to change. The first truly democratic election in South Africa’s history is about to unite Nelson Mandela’s rainbow nation at the ballot box. And, across the world, those in exile, those who could not return home, those who would not return home, wait. Watch and wait . . .
London. Martin O’Malley isn’t one of those watching and waiting. He is too busy trying to figure out if Germaine Spencer really is the girl for him and why his best friend is intent on ruining every relationship he gets involved in. And then . . . And then Germaine is pregnant and suddenly the world really has changed for Martin O’Malley.
South Africa. A land of opportunity. A place where a young black man with an MSc from the London School of Economics could have it all, would have it all. But what does Martin O’Malley, London born and bred with an Irish surname, really know about his mother’s country? His motherland. A land he has never seen.
An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.
Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves–now protective, now hedonistic–move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.
Narrated by the various selves within Ada and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.
In Johannesburg three men’s lives revolve around one woman. Mfundo is a struggling jazz musician. All hope of ever becoming famous end when he gets into a macho fight with an international R&B artist. No one is keen to employ him any longer, and Mfundo takes the role of house-husband. But his girlfriend Sli is not willing to be the ‘man’ of the house. Mzilikazi is a gay man in a heterosexual marriage. One of the few people in his life who do not question the decision he makes is his best friend, Sli. Tinaye is a Zimbabwean struggling to gain citizenship in South Africa hence his current situation – underpaid and overqualified. The only way to gain citizenship is to marry Grace. But then he meets Sli…