Lloyd Jones’s much-acclaimed climate change novel ''Y Dŵr'' was first
published in Welsh in 2009 and was published in recent English edition
Y Lolfa publishers in Wales released the book, which has been
described as a “gripping” and “extraordinarily moving” cli-fi (climate
fiction) novel, that follows the trials and tribulations of a family
living in extreme poverty on a remote lake-side farm, following a
worldwide crisis. We don't know exactly what the crisis is or was but
the reader can guess.
"Books show the shape of the author’s mind when he was writing his
story, and 'Water' is a book about the future, and what worries me
about the world today,” Jones, who lives in Abergwyngregyn on the
north Wales coast, says.
"I I feel we are losing control of things, and making a mess of it. Of
course, history never pans out as we expect, but with a world
population predicted to reach nine billion by 2040, it doesn’t take
much imagination to foresee what might happen if the food chain
suddenly snaps," he adds.
"But I’m not trying to dig too deep in the book,” Jones says. “It’s a
straight-forward, simple book. It’s an imagining of what global
warming could do to Wales if it reaches its worst potential, and
people have to really struggle for survival. I grew up on a farm near
Llanrwst in the 1950s, and we led a very simple life: water from a
well, no electricity, very simple food. Nowdays, most people don’t
realise how luxurious their lives are. They have no idea how difficult
it would be to sustain themselves if something happened to our food
"Having said that, the book wasn’t written to create fear," Jones
adds. "There is enough of that in the world already. All I’m saying is
this: look up from your screens. Look at the real world, not the
virtual world inside your televisions and computers. We need to do
I have read "Water" and I couldn't put it down the day it came in the
overseas mail. Here's my take on a sober, stunning, powerful book.
If America has given us Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD, a powerful, poetic
march through dystopian nothingess after some major event on Earth —
perhaps a comet strike, perhaps a massive volcanic eruption, perhaps a
nuclear war breaking out, perhaps some major global warming impact
events creating a Hell on Earth (McCarthy never says exactly, but in
an interview he let on that it was mostly a comet strike that captured
his imagination) — then Wales has given us Lloyd Jone's WATER, a
gripping cri de coeur written in the same kind of poetic prose that
McCarthy mined so well in his 2007 novel and WATER is about, well, the
end of the road, if not the end of civilization. IT's that good and
that disturbing as well.
WATER doesn't end on a happy note. In fact, Chapter 52 begins with 11
lines written in Chinese characters, and readers find out when they
read the translation at the bottom of the same page, the Chinese text
is from a Chinese military ship's log detailing the killing of two
Westernes adrift in the waters off western Europe and the taking of a
small child on the boat back to a Chinese orphange in Shanghai.
Wales? China? Shanghai? What is this book about? Read it.
Its message is utterly, resoundingly, tragic. But the poetry of Jones'
prose gets as close to McCarthy's THE ROAD as any future dystopian
novel I have read so far. Jones nail it.
There's a family here, in Wales, on a farm, a remote farm, and there's
an outsider, not Welsh, who comes into their lives. And there's the
Chinese patrol boat at the end which presages two things: the
communist Chinese have taken over the world by this point, and it's
all over for Western civilization. What the Chinese will do with the
world they have inherited is anybody's guess and Jones does not go
there. He just tells the story up to that point. The near future, the
distant future, it's hard to tell when the story takes place. I was
mesmerized the entire way through and surpised when I came to the last
chapter and saw Chinese script taking over from the English words I
had been reading for 51 earlier chapters.
Jones rescues his dark meditation on the fate of humankind with prose
that calms and soothes, even as it plumbs the depths of a tragedy
beyond repair. Like I said, I could not put the book down. I could not
stop until I read it through in one long sitting. I was hypnotized.
The storytelling is relentless and it never lets up. Like McCarthy in
THE ROAD, Jones has turned WATER into a meditation on a future nobody
want to accept or even think about much, But think we must, and WATER
pushes us page by page.
This is the end, but not really the end. There will be more. The
Chinese have come. The Chinese have taken over. A sequel in the works?
I have no idea. But I would love to read it, too. A former newspaper
editor, Jones is in his mid-60s now and has a newspaperman's sense of
what makes language work. But more than that, he is poet and a
prophet. This is a cli fi novel that should be made into a movie by
someone like Danny Boyle in Britain or Shekar Kapur in India. Or Ang
Lee in Hollywood.
WATER works. Read it.
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