“His habit, and eventually ours, was not to draw attention to any of this. It was as if we’d agreed a kind of truce among us so we didn’t have to notice he was peculiar. If visitors asked about it we only shrugged. ‘That’s how he is’, we would say; ‘he listens for water…’”
Listening for Water is a fascinating collection of short stories which introduce a range of people mis-placed by migration or circumstance. Over the course of the nineteen tales, Sandra Wallman explores those moments of decision and encounter that make all the difference between salvation and disaster.
The title piece describes a good man’s life blighted by memories of a single failure. In others a group of Sunday strollers witness the leap of a girl from the Golden Gate Bridge; a Ugandan in France brings her own way of honouring the death of a neighbour; a woman discovers the limits of motherly love when tending to a very different kind of infant…
These stories are as varied in their style and themes as they are in their setting. Some have no geography, four are set in Africa, two in France, others span as wide as Germany, London, Amsterdam and San Francisco…
Listening for Water is fiction lit by its author’s ethnographic skill. In stories threaded with delicacy and humour, the edginess of life everywhere is richly observed.