From a Sundance Books and Music news release
About the book
Unrelenting drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. With the Central Valley barren, underground aquifer drained, and Sierra snowpack entirely depleted, most “Mojavs,” prevented by both armed vigilantes and an indifferent bureaucracy from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to internment camps.
In Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon, two young Mojavs—Luz, once a poster child for the Bureau of Conservation and its enemies, and Ray, a veteran of the “forever war” turned surfer—squat in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Holdouts, they subsist on rationed cola and whatever they can loot, scavenge and improvise. The couple’s fragile love somehow blooms in this arid place, and for the moment, it seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins.
They head east, a route strewn with danger: sinkholes and patrolling authorities, bandits and the brutal, omnipresent sun. Ghosting after them are rumors of a visionary dowser—a diviner for water—and his followers, who whispers say have formed a colony at the edge of a mysterious sea of dunes.
Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.
About the author
Claire Vaye Watkins is the author of Battleborn and a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” fiction writer as well as the recipient of The Story Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rosenthal Family Foundation Award and a Guggenheim fellowship, among many other honors. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011, Best of the Southwest 2013 and elsewhere.
A graduate of UNR, she is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. Watkins has also taught at Bucknell and Princeton, and she and her husband, writer Derek Palacio, are co-directors of the Mojave School, a creative-writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.
Learn more at sundancebookstore.com/watkins.