cover image Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir

Akwaeke Emezi. Riverhead, $27 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-32919-1

Emezi (The Death of Vivek Oji) reflects on their spiritual and creative evolution in this gorgeous epistolary memoir. Among the cast of recipients they address are friends, family, an ex-lover, Toni Morrison, and Senthuran Varatharajah, their German translator, who inspired the work’s form. Originally from Aba, Nigeria, Emezi identifies as ogbanje, an Igbo spirit that’s also a god. They are “embodied but not human,” an existential tension that governed their life as they traveled the globe in their 20s in search of home and themselves. Emezi eventually settled down in New Orleans in 2019, but their search for self continues in each letter as they shed old “masks,” outgrow relationships, and undergo a hysterectomy to align their human body with their “spiritself.” Emezi details the loneliness that comes with being “estranged from the indigenous Black realities” and is unwavering in their demand that readers meet them on their terms, even if they might be considered “too strange, too arrogant.” Yet in consistently captivating prose, Emezi demonstrates that it is precisely this unyielding belief in themself that catapulted their career, clinching literary awards and six-figure book deals. Those interested in broadening their metaphysical understanding of the world would do well to pick up this spellbinding work. Agent: Krisi Murray, The Wylie Agency. (June)