Dear Senthuran: A Book Review

Memoir Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi is a deeply energetic text exploring their experiences existing as an ọgbanje in a world of human constructs, a Nigerian writer within the constrictive realm of U.S. academia and publishing, and a soft heart seeking comfort among the spirits of loved ones.

Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi

Author of Pet for young adult readers, and Freshwater and The Death of Vivek Oji for adult readers, Emezi has once again delivered a laudable work of literature composed of visceral imagery and palpable prose. Each sentence drives the current of Emezi’s meaning, and the energy of their narrative voice teems with power. Composed of letters to Emezi’s various relations, this perspective enables a very intimate insight as Emezi honestly and linguistically purges the depths of their struggles with depression, tensions with their human mother, systemic hurdles with altering their physical form, and interpersonal breaks and bonds. While writing candidly of all this, Emezi is also profoundly self-aware and assertive of their talents and desires, which provides the reader with a sense of secondhand empowerment, as Emezi’s confidence feels contagious through the page.

“Execution | Dear Nonso” will inspire writers, a letter in which Emezi speaks of the driving force that propels their writing practice and has helped them achieve manifested goals such as large-figure book deals amidst personal turmoil. From this section, Emezi writes:

What happens after you make the work might be uncertain, but one thing is guaranteed: If you don’t make the work, nothing will happen. Discipline is just a series of choices. With the spell, we can understand that each choice is carving out a future, finding our way out of the desert. Trust me, it’s glorious on the other side.

Akwaeke Emezi in Dear Senthuran, p. 26

Complex and compelling, unsheathing and re-donning the masks of the human realm, and quintessentially and refreshingly unapologetic, Dear Senthuran is a literary self-realization and proclamation of greatness that will continue to fulfill readers throughout the archival future. It is a testament to the phoenix cycle, the endurance of the souls.

Dear Senthuran is a must-read before Emezi stunningly releases three new books in 2022: Bitter, a follow-up to Pet (February); Content Warning: Everything, a collection of poems (April); and You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, an adult romance about an artist reemerging into the dating scene after the death of her partner (May).

Visit akwaeke.com for more about them and their work.


For more book reviews from Slanted Spines, browse here.

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