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Saltwater: Winner of the Portico Prize

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781473682771

Price: £16.99

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‘A distinctive new voice for fans of ‘Fleabag’ or Sally Rooney’ Independent

‘Raw, intimate and authentic’ The Sunday Times

Gorgeous . . . Andrews’s writing is transportingly voluptuous, conjuring tastes and smells and sounds like her literary godmother, Edna O’Brien.’ New York Times

‘Luminous’ Observer

‘Lyrically poetic’ Evening Standard

‘Disarmingly honest . . . I wish I had read this when I was 19.’ Guardian

When Lucy wins a place at university, she thinks London will unlock her future. It is a city alive with pop up bars, cool girls and neon lights illuminating the Thames at night. At least this is what Lucy expects, having grown up seemingly a world away in working-class Sunderland, amid legendary family stories of Irish immigrants and boarding houses, now-defunct ice rinks and an engagement ring at a fish market.

Yet Lucy’s transition to a new life is more overwhelming than she ever expected. As she works long shifts to make ends meet and navigates chaotic parties from East London warehouses to South Kensington mansions, she still feels like an outsider among her fellow students. When things come to a head at her graduation, Lucy takes off for Ireland, seeking solace in her late grandfather’s cottage and the wild landscape that surrounds it, wondering if she can piece together who she really is.

Lyrical and boundary-breaking, Saltwater explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, the challenges of shifting class identity and the way that the strongest feelings of love can be the hardest to define.


This book is sublime. It dares to be different, to look in a different way. Andrews is not filling anyone's shoes, she is destroying the shoes and building them from scratch.
Daisy Johnson, author of <i>Everything Under</i>
Observer New Review
A stunning new voice in British literary fiction.
Saltwater moved me to tears on several occasions; here is proof of the poetic idiosyncrasies of every family, of every person's narrative being worthy of literature, of the fact that a good novel shouldn't bring voices in from the margins, but travel outwards towards them, and let them tell their own story, in their own voice, in their own, unique way.
Andrew McMillan
Saltwater revels in the possibilities of its form, using fragments to shift tone and texture, reminding us of those pivotal moments that can upend a life . . . This book holds disparate elements in a finely wrought balance that is difficult to achieve at any stage of a writing life let alone in a debut.
Kayo Chingonyi, winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize
A book of breathtaking beauty. Saltwater is a visionary novel with prose that gets deep under your skin. The short, sharp chapters thrum with life. Lucy is a memorable character, her journey one that is moving and totally compelling, telling a series of deep truths about the state of our divided nation. Andrews is a major new voice in contemporary British fiction.
Alex Preston
Lyrically poetic
<i>Evening Standard</i>
Raw, intimate and authentic . . . Andrews obviously has talent.
The Sunday Times
Observer New Review
Captures that overwhelming sense of the possible and how daunting and disorientating it can be when the change you craved doesn't expand your horizons but instead hollows you out. ****
Sunday Express
Lyrical . . . a carefully pieced-together exploration of the way we connect with a landscape, of how a place might help us to return to ourselves . . . a sensitive and intelligent exploration of the ravages of austerity . . . a book about belonging.
Irish Independent
A distinctive new voice for fans of 'Fleabag' or Sally Rooney . . . Jessica Andrews's debut novel shimmers with promise: it's one of those books where, from the first pages, you're grabbed by a distinctive new voice.
Startling immediacy
Stylist Loves
Visceral, high-definition sections - which also record Lucy's growing awareness of, and estrangement from, her working-class background - are highlights . . . a sharply observed and poignant first outing.
Daily Mail
The writing is disarmingly honest . . . I found parts of this novel intensely moving. I wish I had read it when I was 19.
Mesmerising. Jessica is a brilliant, original writer. She's a name to watch.
Irish Examiner
Fluid, crisp and bracing. Quietly experimental in form - short numbered snippets that recall the writing of Maggie Nelson and Jenny Offill - the book explores familial bonds, class identity, the longing for home and the simultaneous desire to escape it.
Irish Times
Works perfectly...the astute observations of working class life pour off every page.
<i>The Crack</i>
Andrews writes about life as we experience it in memory, melding trauma, joy and sensory half-recollections. Saltwater is a moving debut which portrays an ordinary young life in an original and refreshing way.
Tender and beautiful.