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“I haven’t dared to go to the spring in seven weeks. Yesterday I turned on the tap in the house and held the mouth of the waterskin to its metal. I spoke to it in pretty words and ugly words, and I may have even screamed and wept, but water doesn’t care for human sorrows. It flows without slowing or quickening its pace in the darkness of the earth, where only stones will hear.”
Global warming has changed the world’s geography and its politics. Wars are waged over water, and China rules Europe, including the Scandinavian Union, which is occupied by the power state of New Qian. In this far north place, 17-year-old Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father, a position that holds great responsibility and great secrets. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that Noria’s father tends, which once provided water for her whole village.
But secrets do not stay hidden forever, and after her father’s death the army starts watching their town—and Noria. And as water becomes even scarcer, Noria must choose between safety and striking out, between knowledge and kinship.
Imaginative and engaging, lyrical and poignant, Memory of Water is an indelible novel that portrays a future that is all too possible.
“An emotionally nuanced study in morality, which draws its suspense from love, choices, and the mark that everyone leaves on the world.” Helsingin Sanomat - Finland newspaper
“Where Itäranta shines is in her rejection of conventional plots and in her understated but compelling characters. The work is a deceptively tranquil examination of a world of dust and ashes where the tenacious weed of hope still survives.” Publishers Weekly
“The writing is gorgeous and delicate in this dystopian award-winning debut, which is unique in both its setting and the small scale that Finnish author Itäranta employs.” Library Journal
“Itäranta’s lyrical style makes this dystopian tale a beautiful exploration of environmental ethics and the power of ritual.” Washington Post Book World
“Simultaneously a coming-of-age story, a fantastic adventure, and a bold warning about a future that is all too real.” Portland Book Review
Emmi Itäranta's debut novel Memory of Water (originally published in Finnish as Teemestarin kirja) has won several awards: the Fantasy and Sci-fi Literary Contest organized by the Finnish publishing house Teos in 2010, the Kalevi Jäntti Prize for young authors in 2012 and the Young Aleksis Kivi Prize in 2012. It received an honorable mention from the 2014 James Tiptree Jr. Award jury and was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Golden Tentacle Award in 2015. Translation rights to the novel have been sold in 17 territories to date. In 2014, Itäranta's work was featured in Granta Finland 3:Best of Young Finnish Novelists.
Emmi grew up in Tampere, Finland. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Tampere and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent, UK. Her professional background includes stints as a columnist, theatre critic, dramaturge, scriptwriter and press officer. She lives in Canterbury, UK. Her second novel, The City of Woven Streets, will be published in the UK and US in 2016.
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“We ask that you stay calm,” the mayor said. “We’re Portlanders, right? We have thrived in prosperity, and we can endure hardship. To those who may feel the need to secure quantities of water, by whatever means, I ask you to have trust. Trust in your government, trust in me. We will provide. We will help each other get through. No one will go thirsty.”
In drought-stricken Portland, Oregon, a Robin Hood-esque water thief is caught on camera redistributing an illegal truckload of water to those in need. Nicknamed Maid Marian—real name: Renee, a 20-something barista and eternal part-time college student—she is an instant folk hero. Renee rides her swelling popularity and the public's disgust at how the city has abandoned its people, raises an army . . . and secedes a quarter of the city. Even as Maid Marian and her compatriots build their community one neighbor at a time, they are making powerful enemies amongst the city government and the National Guard. Sherwood is an idealistic dream too soon caught in a brutal fight for survival.
Sherwood Nation is the story of the rise and fall of a micro-nation within a city. It is a love story, a war story, a grand social experiment, a treatise on hacking and remaking government, on freedom and necessity, on individualism and community.
"With climate change and ever-increasing consumption, running out of water is a danger we don’t readily acknowledge, yet Benjamin Parzybok’s Sherwood Nation makes that danger vividly real. . . . Here we see how people behave in crisis—some better and some worse—and how idealism, self-concerned realism, and the personal hang in a balance; friends, alliances, and enemies are made.” Library Journal
“What makes Sherwood Nation so compelling and, frankly, often terrifying, is how close to home it lives. This Portland is totally familiar, invoking the attitudes and spirit of today’s residents and details from the recent political landscape. It feels like the place we know — until a nightly power blackout or parade of National Guard water distribution tankers jars us with a reminder that this is, thankfully, a work of very good fiction." Register Guard
"Benjamin Parzybok has reached into the post-collapse era for a story vital to our here and now. Sherwood Nation is part political thriller, part social fable, and part manifesto, its every page brimming with gonzo exuberance." Jedediah Berry
Benjamin Parzybok is the author of the novels Couch (two time Indie-Next pick) and Sherwood Nation. His short stories have appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed Magazine and West Branch. Among his other projects, he co-founded Gumball Poetry, a literary journal published in gumball capsule machines, co-ran Project Hamad, an effort to free a Guantanamo inmate Adel Hamad (who is now free) and co-runs “Black Magic Insurance Agency,” a one-night city-wide alternative reality game. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with the artist Laura Moulton. He also founded and is the current Chief Technology Officer of the startup Walker Tracker.
levinofearth.com and @sparkwatson
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