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.
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 which was named a Best Book of 2012 by the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Time Out New York, and Flavorwire. In 2012, the National Book Foundation named Claire one of the 5 Best Writers Under 35. An assistant professor at Bucknell University, Claire is also the co-director of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada. Gold Fame Citrus has been named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Vanity Fair, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, and many more.
The setting of this debut novel is a scorching nomadic California which is situated in a terrifyingly nearby future world without water. There’s a surfer, a toddler, a guru, itinerant criminal gangs and lots and lots of sand. A fascinating, original story.