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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

What Will the World Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, by Laura van den Berg

Dzanc Ebooks

What Will the World Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, by Laura van den Berg


What Will the World Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, by Laura van den Berg

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Selected for the 2009 Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program, finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in 2009, longlisted for the 2009 Story Prize, and shortlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor Award

The stories in Laura van den Berg’s rich and inventive debut illuminate the intersection of the mythic and the mundane: a failed actress takes a job as a Bigfoot impersonator; a botanist seeking a rare flower crosses paths with a group of men hunting the Loch Ness monster; a disillusioned missionary in Africa grapples with grief and a growing obsession with a creature rumored to live in the forests of the Congo; and in the title story, a young woman traveling with her scientist mother in Madagascar confronts her burgeoning sexuality and her dream of becoming a long-distance swimmer.

Rendered with precision and longing, the women who narrate these starkly beautiful stories are consumed with searching—for absolution, for solace, for the flash of extraordinary in the ordinary that will forever alter their lives.


“The mysteries of science and the mysteries of the heart—perhaps nowhere have they been so proactively linked as in this debut short-story collection.” —Barnes & Noble, Discover Great New Writers

“. . . a young writer with talent to burn; the beauty of her writing is matched only by the fierce emotional empathy for her characters.” —The Courier-Journal

“The striking and affecting stories in Laura van den Berg’s recently published debut have a restless, adventurer’s spirit. . . . And yet, their themes couldn’t be closer to home: fraught family ties, sexual longing, belief in the unknown.” —The Daily Beast

“These characters lose themselves, intentionally and otherwise, but they’ve got the courage to go about finding themselves, or changed versions of themselves, in the elegant process of drowning, cleansing, and rebirth.” —The Believer

“Stunning, desolate, and unforgettable.” —Booklist

“Van den Berg taps into her characters’ losses with an impressive clarity . . . these tales are the work of a notable author finding her voice.” —Publishers Weekly


Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her MFA at Emerson College. Her fiction has appeared in One StoryBoston ReviewAmerican Short FictionConjunctions,Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008Best New American Voices 2010, and The Pushcart Prize XXIV, among others. She is also the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, the 2009 Julia Peterkin Award, and the 2009–2010 Emerging Writer Lectureship at Gettysburg College. Her debut collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, was selected by the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, longlisted for the Story Prize, and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award. She currently lives in Baltimore, where she is the 2010–2011 Tickner Fellow at the Gilman School.