Launch of “A Diary in the Age of Water” by Nina Munteanu

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Diary Water cover finalOn June 18th, Toronto book publishing house Inanna Publications launched its second spring series and A Diary in the Age of Water, my near-future/far-future speculative fiction book was among them.

A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth and humanity through four generations of women, each with a unique relationship to water.

Evoking Ursula LeGuin’s unflinching humane and moral authority, Nina Munteanu takes us into the lives of four generations of women and their battles against a global giant that controls and manipulates Earth’s water. In a diary that entwines acute scientific observation with poignant personal reflection, Lynna’s story unfolds incrementally, like climate change itself. Particularly harrowing are the neighbourhood water betrayals, along with Lynna’s deliberately dehydrated appearance meant to deflect attention from her own clandestine water collection. Her estrangement from her beloved daughter, her “dark cascade” who embarks upon a deadly path of her own, is heartwrenching. Munteanu elegantly transports us between Lynna’s exuberant youth and her tormented present, between microcosm and macrocosm, linking her story and struggles – and those of her mother, daughter and granddaughter – to the life force manifest in water itself. In language both gritty and hauntingly poetic, Munteanu delivers an uncompromising warning of our future.

—Lynn Hutchinson Lee

 

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Renee Knapp and Nina Munteanu toast Inanna and all participants at the launch

A Diary in the Age of Water starts with young Kyo in the dying boreal forest of what used to be northern Canada. Kyo yearns inordinately for the Age of Water, a turbulent time of great change, before the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity. Looking for answers and plagued by vivid dreams of this holocaust, Kyo discovers the diary of Lynna, a limnologist from a time just prior to the destruction.

At the book launch, I read from Lynna’s first diary entry—in 2045. I then answered questions from audience members who came from Canada’s coast to coast:

 

What inspired you to write this book?

The Way of Water-COVERWho really… My publisher in Rome (Mincione Edizioni) had asked me for a short story on water and politics. I wanted to write about Canada and I wanted something ironic… so I chose water scarcity in Canada, a nation rich in water. “The Way of Water” (“La natura dell’acqua”) resulted, which has been reprinted in several magazines and anthologies, including Cli-Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change (Exile Editions), Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction (Future Fiction/Rosarium Publishing), Little Blue Marble Magazine, and Climate Crisis Anthology (Little Blue Marble). The story was about young Hilde—the daughter of the diarist—dying of thirst in Toronto… It begged for more … so the novel came from it…

 

Why did you choose to write your novel as a diary?

I was writing about both the far and the near future and much of it was based—like Margaret Atwood and her books—on real events and even real people. I wanted personal relevance to what’s going on, particularly with climate change.  I also wanted to achieve a gritty realism of the mundane and a diary felt right. The diarist—Lynna—is also a reclusive inexpressive character, so I thought a personal diary would help bring out her thoughts and feelings. There’s nothing like eves-dropping to make the mundane exciting.

 

If the oceans are rising because the ice caps are melting, is the ocean actually getting less salty?

The short answer is “yes.” As glaciers melt and introduce fresh water to the ocean—contributing to the rise in sea level—salinity is reduced in the surrounding sea. This has far-reaching consequences that lie beyond just rising sea levels and promise to affect all ocean life. Because freshwater is less dense than seawater—hence the saltwater wedge we experience on the lower Fraser River in Vancouver—freshwater increase in seawater will interfere with the pattern, mixing, and movement of ocean currents; this could be devastating to ocean life. The overall movement of ocean currents throughout the planet is called the Great Ocean Conveyor—or Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)—which circulates ocean water very much like in a lake, with dense water sinking beneath warmer, less salty water. As my diarist in the book writes, dumping in more and more freshwater into the ocean has slowed the sinking (and mixing) and the whole machine is slowing down. Freshwater is jamming the conveyor. If it stalls, this would unbalance the heat flux of the planet with more climate devastation.

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Sketch of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) from “A Diary in the Age of Water” Inanna Publications (sketch by Nina Munteanu)

The main protagonist is a limnologist; so are you; is there any resemblance?

Oh yes! Well, apart from the obvious—we both chose the same scientific discipline, we have similar views on the environment and humanity’s place in it. I might even have some of her foibles…hopefully not ALL of them… But, I’d say that all good characters have a piece of ourselves in them. Some dark and some light. The resemblance is heightened because she is depicted through her diary, which adds a gritty realism and a highly personal aspect to the fiction. In truth there’s a piece of me in each of the four women depicted in the story.

 

What is happening to the water in Ontario?

Water quality in Ontario waterways has not improved in the last decade and this can be placed squarely on the shoulders of local, regional and provincial governments and their failure to legislate and act. Inaction varies from lack of regulations and policing of industry to lack of city infrastructure and lack of ecological foresight.

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Cladophora alga in Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario itself receives pollution from Chicago, Sarnia, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Hamilton and Toronto. Pollution includes agricultural runoff (such as excess nutrients and cancer-causing pesticides and herbicides), disease-carrying sewage, and hormone-disrupting storm water runoff. Nine million people rely on the lake for drinking water. Greatest threats to the lake’s health come from urban development, electricity generation, sewage, and storm water contamination. In cities with large amounts of impervious surfaces, storm water runs over pavement and parking lots, picking up oil and other pollutants before flowing into a nearby river or stream. Flash floods are often accompanied by sewage overflow, which carries numerous pathogens. In addition, storm water picks up toxic heavy metals, endocrine disrupting chemicals and pharmaceuticals. All with devastating consequences to humans, never mind aquatic life and other wildlife.

Every five years the Conservation Authority Watershed Report Cards provide an assessment of ground and surface water quality in various watersheds of Ontario. The latest one by the TRCA (Toronto and Region Conservation Authority) in 2018 gave an overall grade of “D” (unchanged from 2013). They cited storm water runoff and lack of its management improvement as the chief reason for the poor grade. Increasing chloride concentrations in the Toronto region (mostly from liberal use of road salt) poses a real problem to aquatic life.

 

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Forest swamp in Deas Park, BC (photo by Nina Munteanu)

You mentioned that each of the four generations of women have a singular relationship with water. What role does water play in the book?

Well, in some important way, water is the fifth character. You could say even the main character. Water is the theme that carries each woman on her personal journey with climate change and the devastation that occurs—through water, I might add. Climate change is a water phenomenon, after all… So, water—like place and setting—plays a subtle yet powerful role in the story, influencing each character in her own way and bringing them together in the overall journey of humanity during a time of great and catastrophic change.

 

Are there other ages/epochs?

Yes. The story begins in the far future with young Kyo during the Age of Trees, after the end of the Age of Water. It is, in fact, the end of that age as well and that is why she prepares for the Exodus to “humanity’s” new home.

All Inanna titles are 30% off with coupon code: summer20. Please also consider purchasing “A Diary in the Age of Water” from an independent bookstore this summer. Find your local bookstore: http://open-book.ca/News/Your-Community-Your-Bookstore. And here is the current map of independent bookstores that are doing curbside pick up and delivery across Canada.

 

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Surf on Hirtle Beach, NS (photo and illustration by Nina Munteanu)

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Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press(Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Waterwas released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in June 2020.

 

 

 

“The Ecology of Story: World as Character” Launched at Type Books, Toronto

ECOLOGY_Poster-web2UofT instructor and writer Nina Munteanu launched the third book in her acclaimed “how to write” series at Type Books, Toronto, on July 4th, 2019. The launch of “The Ecology of Story: World as Character” celebrated writing and place through readings, songs and talks by local writers, poets and singers.

“The Ecology of Story” was created to address the need for writers to better acknowledge the central role of place in story and better address the interrelatedness of environment with character on a journey.

“The Ecology of Story” appears in two parts; Part 1 is dedicated to basic ecology with a focus on strange and wonderful relationships in the natural world; Part 2 integrates metaphoric connections between character and place/environment to deepen meaning in story.

 

 

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Launch at Type Books

From Habitats and Trophic Levels to Metaphor and Archetype…

The Ecology of Story” teaches the fundamentals of ecology, insights of world-building, and how to master layering-in of metaphoric connections between setting and character in fiction. For excerpts of the book go to EcologyOfStory.

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Launch presenters

Launch at Type Books

Poet and song writer Honey Novick opened the launch with an inspirational song. Ted Nolan, Maureen Scott Harris and Nehal El-Hadi read poems and works that addressed lost rivers, particularly of Toronto. Merridy Cox discussed the science of binomials. Costi Gurgu read from his most recent work Reciparium, and Cheryl Xavier read her poem to the Banyan tree. Honey closed with another song, ending the formal part of the event.

Launch Presenters

Honey NovickHoney Novick is a poet, voice teacher, singer and songwriter. Honey is the winner of the Empowered Poet Award, CAPAC, Yamaha Classical Music Competition in Japan, among others. Honey wrote music for CBC’s Morningside and sang for Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

 

Ted NolanTed NolanE. Martin Nolan—is a poet, essayist, editor and voice of the trees. He teaches in the Engineering Communication Program at the University of Toronto and is a PhD Candidate in Applied Linguistics at York University. His latest work is a chapbook written in collaboration with some trees entitled: “Trees Hate Us.”

 

MaureenScottHarrisMaureen Scott Harris is a poet, essayist, and rare books cataloguer. A UofT grad in Library Science, she received the Trillium Book Award for poetry for Drowning Lessons and was the first non-Australian to be awarded the 2009 WildCare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize for her essay, “Broken Mouth: Offerings for the Don River, Toronto.”

 

Nehal El-HadiNehal El-Hadi is a writer, researcher, editor and journalist, who explores the intersections of body, technology, and space. Her writing has appeared in academic journals, literary magazines, and forthcoming in anthologies and edited collections. She is currently a visiting scholar at York University and sessional faculty at the University of Toronto.

 

MerridyCoxMerridy Cox is a naturalist, photographer, editor, indexer and poet. She is also managing editor of Lyrical Leaf Publishing. Merridy has a degree in biology and museum studies;  her poetry focuses mostly on the natural world around her; her poems and photographs are published in several literary anthologies. She has edited several books, including this one!

 

Costi GurguCosti Gurgu is a graphic designer and illustrator as well as an award-winning science fiction and fantasy novelist and short story writer who is published in anthologies and magazines throughout the world. He is a former lawyer and was art director for lifestyle and fashion magazines in Europe before moving to Canada. His latest novel—RecipeArium—was called the new new weird by Robert J. Sawyer and was nominated for an Aurora Award.

 

cheryl-xavierCheryl Antao-Xavier is an editor, interior book designer and publisher with IOWI. She has been publishing emergent writers since 2008 and continues to offer self-publishing solutions to writers and companies and organizations. She recently released her book: “Self-Publishing the Professional Way: 5 Steps from Raw Manuscript to Publishing.”

 

Launch sign outside

 

 

 

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Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press (Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” will be released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in 2020.

 

 

 

Launch of “Water Is…” Celebrates Our Connection With Water

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Mimico Creek (photo N. Munteanu)

On June 12th, Councillor Jim Tovey, Mississauga Nation knowledge keeper Nancy Rowe and others helped me celebrate the launch of my long-awaited book “Water Is…” (three years in the making!) with a water blessing of Mimico Creek and various water-engaging activities.

The environmental event “celebrated water and our connection with it” at Islington Golf Course in Etobicoke. The 75 people who attended also included the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Credit Valley Conservation Authority, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Ecologos (WaterDocs), Rethink Sustainability Initiatives, poets, writers and artists.

In her powerful and compelling blessing, Nancy Rowe said, “Water is life, water is healing, we owe everything to water.” Despite the celebration, Mimico’s ironic reality was reflected in the ceremony: “You used to be able to drink this water,” Rowe lamented as she used tap water for the water blessing ceremony.

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Nancy Rowe blesses the water (photo Maureen Pogue)

Vince D’Elia of TRCA gave Mimico Creek a failed report card and spoke about the need to educate the public on water and watersheds. Given that Mimico Creek flows some 33 km within a 77 square km watershed that encompasses three jurisdictions (Brampton, Mississauga, and Toronto); harmonizing efforts is no easy task.

Yasmin Glanville Jim Tovey Travis Belanger Michelle Stone

Jim Tovey with Yasmin Glanville, Travis Belanger and Michelle Stone (photo K. September)

Councillor Tovey stressed connection of individuals, communities and jurisdictions to create awareness and action in re-wilding our watersheds and to foster beauty. He highlighted Mississauga’s extensive planning and investment into these initiatives, saying that they are setting the precedent for all Canadian cities for sustainability planning.

Claire Lawson of LOWaterkeeper proclaimed that, “We are Lake Ontario,” referring to us being 70% water and the constant circulation of water on the planet. She gave us the 6 steps to water leadership: 1) know your watermark; 2) orient yourself; 3) get out there; 4) know the rules; 5)  participate; and 6) dedicate yourself. She told us why sharing our personal watermarks was so important and urged participants to share their watermark–a personal story that connected them with a particular waterbody and event–to help promote meaning and protection of waterbodies around the world.

Ro Omrow, with Ecologos (WaterDocs) invited participants to sign a petition to make Toronto a Blue Community. Initiated by the Council of Canadians, a Blue Community is one that:

  • recognizes water as a human right
  • bans the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events
  • promotes publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services
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Tasnim Jivaji sets up her water art at Nina’s launch/event (photo K. September)

Colleague, Naturalist friend, editor, indexer and poet, Merridy Cox, shared her watermark. Liana Di Marco read her poem “Rewilding the Sacred”, which appears in my book. John Ambury, whose poem also appears in my book read “Moving Waters.”

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Liana Di Marco signing her pledge

Mississauga artist Tasnim Jivaji exhibited her water-inspired art. Originally from Mombasa, Kenya, Jivaji said, “In all my travels, in all the places around the world, it has never been the concrete that takes my breath away; it is always the body of water.”

The event also included a Water Action Station, which featured a three-step process toward successful water-action:

Step 1: buy my book (learning–step one toward water literacy, of course!)
Step 2: pin your prioritized water charity (Pixl Press is donating a portion of book sales toward several water charities; engagement)
Step 3: sign a pledge to Cousteau’s Bill of Rights for Future Generations(commitment to action)
The mission of the Cousteau society and this bill is to “educate people to understand, to love and to protect the water systems of the planet, marine and fresh water, for the well-being of future generations.”

 

According to Tovey, my book “Water Is…” bridges the gap from awareness to appreciation, connection and final action.

This book came from a lifetime’s dedication to water, humanity and our environment–from the moment I realized as a little girl that I felt the planet. I firmly think that water is the “glue” that can help us all connect and this book is the result.

Water is the ultimate gift and connecting force.

In the months and years to come we may see water further commodified, abused, and persecuted, figuring in tensions, take-overs and wars … Or not … That depends on us, everyone of us. We’re over 70% water, after all.

We ARE water…

What we think, feel and do, so does water.

#WhatIsWATER
#TheMeaningOfWater

Images taken by Kevin September (@SeptemberSphere; http://kevinseptember.com) unless otherwise shown.

Praise for “Water Is…” from around the world: 

This book emotionally connected me with water. As a result it fed my perception about the value of life. It reminded me that life reveals in each space a complex system that is full of surprise and beauty. A system of which I am part, without separation.”—Laura Fres, One Deep Sustainability, Barcelona, Spain

A sumptuous collection of treasures…from the basics of matter itself to the social and spiritual aspects of this substance, which touches our lives so much and is still not really understood.”—Dr. B. Kröplin and Regine C. Henschel, “World in a Drop”, Germany

Congratulations, Nina! Water Is… is an adventurous, surprising and inspiring book that could not feel more timely. The writing swept me away on a journey through history, landscape and our entire universe, yet brought me back home in the end with a fresh perspective on the significance of water.”—Emmi Itäranta, author of Memory of Water, United Kingdom

“If you don’t want to read all those other books on water, just read this one.”—John Stewart, Mississauga News, Ontario, Canada

“[Nina] is immersed well enough in water to tell us about how we should think about it. And the way she goes about it in this book is awfully good…A fine achievement.”—Joseph Planta, The Commentary, Vancouver, Canada

This book leaves me impressed. From science to science fiction, from philosophy to religion, from history to fairytale, the role of water is illustrated and illuminated. Water is probably the best investigated and least understood substance on this world, yet we still don’t know how to describe it in a better way than calling it H2O. This book tries to zero in on the missing part, the great unknown of water, and it does it in a very intelligent and charming way.”—Elmar C. Fuchs, scientist, WETSUS Program Manager, Netherlands

Kudus to Nina Munteanu for sharing her deep wisdom, experience and knowledge of humanity’s greatest natural resource!  As Leonardo da Vinci said, “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” We forget at our own peril and so I am deeply grateful for this book by so highly qualified an author!”—Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist, futurist, author of Gaia’s Dance: The story of Earth & Us, USA