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Memory of Water
Cover of Memory of Water
Memory of Water
A Novel
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An amazing, award-winning speculative fiction debut novel by a major new talent, in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin.

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, seventeen-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 amazing, award-winning speculative fiction debut novel by a major new talent, in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin.

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, seventeen-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.

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About the Author-
  • Emmi Itäranta writes fiction in Finnish and English. Her professional background is an eclectic mix of writing-related activities, including stints as a columnist, theatre critic, scriptwriter and press officer. She is the author of Memory of Water and lives in Canterbury, England.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 7, 2014
    In a backwater Scandinavian community lucky enough to have survived the catastrophic transformations in Earth’s climate in the near future, Noria Kaitio dreams of becoming a tea master like her father and his forefathers before him. This dream is threatened when change comes to the village in the form of Commander Taro, a ruthless New Qian functionary who quickly discovers that the Kaitio’s unassuming tea house hides secrets worth killing for. Confronted with histories suppressed by the autocratic world government, and burdened with the guardianship of a hidden spring in a drought-plagued world, Noria considers bold action, but can she act before Taro’s noose closes around her neck? The basic components of Noria’s world—calamitous climate change, oppressive world governments, grasping officials—are quite familiar, and in lesser hands this would be just another unremarkable dystopia. 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. Agent: Elina Ahlback.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2014
    Delicate medium-future fable that first appeared in Finland in 2012.Global warming has destroyed the old world and its order. Wars were fought over energy resources and water, rendering Norway and Sweden uninhabitable. Now the empire of New Qian rules Asia and much of Europe. In the far north of occupied Finland, where even in winter the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees and water shortages are endemic, 17-year-old Noria Kaitio studies under her father to become a tea master. Not only must Noria learn the ceremony, with its underlying philosophy and ethics, but she must be introduced to her father's greatest secret: the location of the hidden spring from which the water for the teahouse derives. The region's military chief, Maj. Bolin-a family friend and frequent guest-has been protecting the teahouse, but as water shortages become ever more acute, Bolin's successor, Cmdr. Taro, proves less accommodating. After soldiers dig up the grounds and trash the teahouse, finding nothing, Noria's mother leaves to take up a position at a university in China, hoping Noria will join her. Meanwhile, Noria's friend Sanja, a young woman with an extraordinary talent for fixing broken junk recovered from ancient landfills, recovers what she fails to recognize as a CD player. In the same landfill, Noria finds a disk, which they are able to play and whose contents hint at an extraordinary and dangerous secret. After her father dies, Noria makes plans to learn the truth.Itaranta's fine debut is lyrically rendered, vivid and engaging despite a bit too much philosophy and a less-than-satisfying ending.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from May 15, 2014

    Noria Kaitio's home in the far future Scandinavian Union is hardly recognizable after climate change resculpted the physical landscape (it hasn't snowed in a century) and China's domination of much of the globe has reshaped the political world. Because Noria's father is the local tea master, her family has a larger water ration than most of her neighbors, who face constant shortages. The tea ritual also brings important people from the ruling military regime to her home from as far away as the capital in New Qian. Although it is unconventional to train a girl to perform the tea ceremony, Noria's father teaches her the rituals and shares with her a dangerous secret. VERDICT 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 Itaranta employs. A larger world, with huge problems, is hinted at but not shown. Because the reader stays with the beautifully realized character of Noria and the village she inhabits, the tension is high even though the pacing remains measured.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Helsingin Sanomat - Finland newspaper "An emotionally nuanced study in morality, which draws its suspense from love, choices, and the mark that everyone leaves on the world."
  • Turun Sanomat - Finland newspaper "An exceptionally fine debut novel in which all elements come together in a controlled and well-considered manner. At the same time, the novel is fascinating and addictive."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "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."
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