The B&N YA Podcast: Akwaeke Emezi

Explore the stories behind the young adult books you love with the B&N YA Podcast. Join the editors of the B&N Blogs as they sit down with YA authors to talk about books, life, their teen years, their pop cultural obsessions, and how they came up with the stories that keep us up at night.

Our guest today is Akwaeke Emezi, the author of the new YA novel Pet, which is a finalist for this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Emezi burst onto the literary scene with their novel Freshwater, a powerful story of a young woman inhabited by multiple spirits, on a journey to understanding a many-sided self. Now, writing for Christopher Myers’s “Make Me a World” YA imprint, Akwaeke brings us the story of Jam, a teenager living in the city of Lucille, a community that prides itself on having been through a revolutionary change — one that eliminated what are known as monsters — those who abused, imprisoned, or did violence to others; where a black trans girl like Jam lives in a happy community with her loving parents Bitter and Aloe. But when Jam accidentally invokes the magic that lies dormant in her mother’s powerful artwork, a strange being emerges, one that calls itself Pet. Pet is a hunter and it has come, it tells Jam, because there are still monsters in Lucille. B&N’s Bill Tipper talked with Akwaeke Emezi about this ingenious and spellbinding tale, and their lifetime of making worlds out of story.

The highly-anticipated, genre-defying new novel by award-winning author Akwaeke Emezi that explores themes of identity and justice. Pet is here to hunt a monster. Are you brave enough to look?

There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question—How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi makes their riveting and timely young adult debut with a book that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.

Explore all books by Akwaeke Emezi.

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Author photo of Akwaeke Emezi (c) Texas Isaiah.

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