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MEMORY OF WATER by Emmi Itäranta


by Emmi Itäranta

Pub Date: June 10th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-232615-7
Publisher: Harper Voyager

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.

Itäranta's fine debut is lyrically rendered, vivid and engaging despite a bit too much philosophy and a less-than-satisfying ending.