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Independent Press Award: GAB TALKS with Joseph Howse, author of The Girl in the Water

The GAB TALKS PodcastThe Girl in the Water by Joseph Howse
00:00 / 20:58

“A resilient coming-of-age story … The author includes emotional, compelling scenes with every character, as each one has been dealt a vastly different hand of cards. … It feels very down-to-Earth and includes necessary comical moments throughout. I did not know much about the events or places in this book before, but after finishing it and doing a little extra curiosity research, I’m thankful to have learned something new in such an engaging way.” —Audrey Davis, Independent Book Review

Winner of the 2023 Independent Press Award for Literary Fiction

Winner of the 2023 IPPY Awards Bronze Medal for Best Regional Ebook (Fiction)

Finalist in the 2022 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards for Multicultural Fiction

Finalist in the 17th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards for New Fiction

The Girl in the Water is the story of a multiethnic group of young friends, coming of age in Estonia and Ukraine in the last days of the Soviet Union. Their lives are shaped by an Afghan war, the Chernobyl disaster, and the collapse and legacy of a suffocating society.

The novel examines life and choice in the aftermath of trauma and has garnered praise as both a lifelike family drama and a literary statement in the tradition of the Russian classics.

Scenes of shortwave listening and roaming the hinterlands provide a backdrop to the young characters' search for themselves within a failing civilization that sees non-cooperation and unhappiness as a disease.

At the centre of this multilayered story of family, society, and nature is a Soviet girl, Nadia, who, one day on a remote beach, looks up from her book to see that her friend is drowning.

Nadia is an abstract thinker growing up in an era of endgames. She is a bookworm, an architect of reckless pranks, a day-and-night wanderer, a compulsive witness, and a note-taker. All around her she sees people quietly gambling with life and soul for little apparent gain. As her illusions unravel, she asks herself, what is to be done?

The Girl in the Water is a tragicomedy. It is an intricate study of beauty and futility in everyday life and a call for compassion and humour in a cruel world.

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The Girl in the Water by Joseph Howse
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The Girl in the Water


Joseph Howse


Joseph Howse

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