“I don’t see home as a single place. It’s all the people and places I lived among, and loved, and tried to belong to. Through my love for them, I claim them. Not in uncomplicated ways.”
With her debut memoir, Aftershocks (Simon & Schuster), Nadia Owusu explores the fault lines of identity, race, and justice, and the ways trauma and myths are transmitted through the generations. We talk about her upbringing in Europe (UK& Italy) and Africa (Ghana, Tanzania & Ethiopia), the meanings of skin color in different cultures, her social justice work, and what she had to learn about race in America. We get into what it’s like to live on high alert, how we reclaim our stories and reframe our world, how Aftershocks evolved from private project to public document, and how even thin soil can let us extend roots. Give it a listen! And go read Aftershocks!
“In some ways, the writing of the book was intentionally a process for me to explore myself and learn and grow.”
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“I came to know in a deep way how the Ashanti people — the culture my father came from – believe the ancestors are always with us, that they’re part of our day-to-day lives.”
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About our Guest
Nadia Owusu is a Brooklyn-based writer and urban planner. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her lyric essay So Devilish a Fire won the Atlas Review chapbook contest. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New York Times, the Washington Post’s The Lily, Literary Review, Electric Literature, Epiphany, and Catapult. Aftershocks is her first book.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Nadia by Beowulf Sheehan. It’s on my instagram.