The Story Prize longlist
In this thought-provoking collection, Sri Lankan immigrants grapple with events that challenge perspectives and alter lives. A volunteer faces memories of wartime violence when she meets a cantankerous old lady on a Meals on Wheels route. A lonely widow obsessed with an impending apocalypse meets an oddly inspiring man. A maidservant challenges class divisions when she becomes an American professor’s wife. An angry tenant fights suspicion when her landlord is burgled. Hardened inmates challenge a young jail psychiatrist’s competence. A father wonders whether to expose his young son’s bully at a basketball game. A student facing poverty courts a benefactor. And in the depths of an isolated Wyoming winter, a woman tries to resist a con artist. These and other tales explore the immigrant experience with a piercing authenticity.
“Full of richly drawn characters and empathetic inquiry. . . The Water Diviner and Other Stories investigates many aspects of Sri Lankan culture, including the long-term effects of colonialism, ethnic and religious differences, caste and class systems, colorism, racism, immigration, and more. A deep humanity drives each story, with the quest for answers always undertaken by inhabiting another's skin.”—Foreword starred review
“Mesmerizing, tranquil, and worldly, these stories kept me transfixed. Each is a long, beautiful excursion into the difficulty and suspense of human relationships. One emerges from the book believing life to be more peaceful and more intense than before. A wonderful, masterful work of art.”—Rebecca Lee, judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award
“With a steady hand, soft heart, and sharp insights, Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer miraculously balances the precarious beam of identity and cultural displacement. The stories in The Water Diviner speak straight to the soul, its universal aches and voids, and we are better for getting to know these characters.”—Nancy Zafris, author, The Home Jar: Stories