Fall 2022 Debuts from RJFWA Winners Rachel Aviv (’10) & Ama Codjoe (’17)
(l-r): Rachel Aviv and Ama Codjoe
Rachel Aviv (’10) Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us (FSG, September 2022).
“The acclaimed, award-winning New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv offers a groundbreaking exploration of mental illness and the mind, and illuminates the startling connections between diagnosis and identity. In Strangers to Ourselves, a powerful and gripping debut, Rachel Aviv raises fundamental questions about how we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress. Drawing on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs, Aviv writes about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are. Animated by a profound sense of empathy, Aviv’s exploration is refracted through her own account of living in a hospital ward at the age of six and meeting a fellow patient with whom her life runs parallel—until it no longer does. Aviv asks how the stories we tell about mental disorders shape their course in our lives. Challenging the way we understand and talk about illness, her account is a testament to the porousness and resilience of the mind.”
Ama Codjoe (’17) Bluest Nude: Poems (Milkweed Editions, September 2022).
“Ama Codjoe’s highly anticipated debut collection brings generous light to the inner dialogues of women as they bathe, create art, make and lose love. Each poem rises with the urgency of a fully awakened sensual life. Codjoe’s poems explore how the archetype of the artist complicates the typical expectations of women: be gazed upon, be silent, be selfless, reproduce. Dialoguing with and through art, Bluest Nude considers alternative ways of holding and constructing the self. Purposefully shifting between the role of artist and subject, seer and seen, Codjoe’s poems ask what the act of looking does to a person—public looking, private looking, and that most intimate, singular spectacle of looking at one’s self. 'The end of the world has ended,’ Codjoe’s speaker announces, 'and desire is still / all I crave.’ Startling and seductive in equal measure, this formally ambitious collection represents a powerful, luminous beginning.”