Memory of Water

Emmi Itäranta

Original title: Teemestarin kirja

Author: Emmi Itäranta

Published: 2012

Publisher: Teos

Genre: Fantasy & Science Fiction

Pages: 266

Reading material:

English edition

A story of growing up, of the power of friendship, and, above all, of undying hope in a wrecked world

The story is set in a drought-ravaged, war-ridden future world where fresh water has become the privilege of a few and tea masters have been keepers of natural springs for centuries. Memory of Water tells the story of seventeen-year-old Noria, set to become the next tea master in her village. When her father dies, she finds herself alone with the dangerous responsibility of guarding a hidden spring that can save lives – or provoke people to kill.

As war spreads into her homeland, Noria’s loyalties are torn between keeping her duty and helping her dearest friend Sanja, whose family can barely survive on their water rations. Together the girls unearth knowledge about the past that has remained buried too long and begin to plan a journey to the Lost Lands, forbidden areas that might hold unexplored water resources.

Yet the web of the military is closing in on Noria’s secret. Sanja disappears mysteriously, and Noria is placed under house arrest. Knowing her own life is in danger, Noria must face a choice in order to secure the hidden information for others.


„Memory of Water“ is an original novel set in a dystopian world where there is not enough water, raising issues about growing up in the world changed by climate crisis. Although published in 2012, the novel could not be more topical today, and we hope its publication could really help raise awareness about the climate emergency in Croatia, especially among young adults. At the same time, in her beautiful prose, with the story holding reader’s attention, Emmi Itäranta reminds us about the importance of simple things in life, those we so often take for granted. Itäranta’s prose is elegant and poetic with sentences that will resonate with us for a long time: Water doesn’t belong to us, but we belong to water: when it has passed through our fingers and pores and bodies, nothing separates us from earth.

Sandra Ukalović, Editor, VBZ, Croatia

The writing is gorgeous and delicate in this dystopian award-winning debut, which is unique in both its setting and the small scale that Finnish author Itäranta employs. A larger world, with huge problems, is hinted at but not shown. Because the reader stays with the beautifully realized character of Noria and the village she inhabits, the tension is high even though the pacing remains measured

- Library Journal starred review, U.S

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Rights sold:
FINLAND: Teos (orig.)

ALBANIA: Dituria
ARABIC: Dar al Muna
BRAZIL: Editora Record Ltda
BULGARIA: Perseus Publishing House
CHINA: Sichuan People's Publishing House Co., Ltd.
CZECH REPUBLIC: Albatros Media a.s./ Plus Publishers
ESTONIA: Koolibri Publishers
FRANCE: Presses de la Cite
GEORGIA: Palitra L Publishing
GERMANY: Reihe Hanser
HUNGARY: Metropolis Media Group Kft.
ITALY: Sperling & Kupfer
JAPAN: Nishimura Co., Ltd.
LATVIA: Jana Rozes Apgads
LITHUANIA: Nieko Rimto/ Publishing House Nothing Serious
NETHERLANDS: Uitgeverij Atlas Contact
NORWAY: Gresvik Forlag AS
SERBIA: Heliks
SOUTH KOREA: The Book In My Life
SPAIN: Ediciones B
SWEDEN: Modernista
THAILAND: Library House
WORLD ENGLISH: HarperVoyager


Foreign covers

About author

Emmi Itäranta

Emmi Itäranta (b.1976) holds two MA degrees, one in Drama and another in Creative Writing. Her award-winning debut novel Memory of Water (Teemestarin kirja) was published in Finland in 2012 to great accolades, followed by The Weaver (Kudottujen kujien kaupunki) in 2015. Her latest novel The Moonday Letters (Kuunpäivän kirjeet) was published in September 2020.

Itäranta’s writing has been compared to that of Ursula K. Le Guin. Her honours include the Young Aleksis Kivi Prize 2013, the Kalevi Jäntti Literary Prize 2012 and first place in the Teos Fantasy and Sci-Fi Literary Contest 2011.

Memory of Water has sold to over 25 languages to date, and it has also been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award recognizing the best science fiction novel published in the UK in 2014, and the Golden Tentacle award. In addition, Itäranta has been included on the Honor List of the Otherwise Award (formerly James Tiptree, Jr. Award).

Itäranta’s CV is an eclectic mix of writing-related activities, including stints as a columnist, theatre critic, press officer and dramaturge. Her poems, short stories, articles and essays have appeared in anthologies, film magazines and science fiction magazines in the UK and Finland. She now lives in Finland after 14 years in the United Kingdom.


2020, Fantasy & Science Fiction

Emmi Itäranta

The Moonday Letters

2015, Fantasy & Science Fiction

Emmi Itäranta

The Weaver

2012, Fantasy & Science Fiction

Emmi Itäranta

Memory of Water