Changing Tides in ‘Her Death Was Also Water’

Article | Issue: Nov 2022

ALLEN C JONES is a Californian poet and associate professor of English Literature and Culture at the University of Stavanger, Norway. His debut novel, Her Death Was Also Water, is a surreal and beautifully told tale about survival, hope and grief. AKINA HANSEN reports.


In recent years, the world has seen an increase in various social and environmental disasters, from the COVID-19 pandemic, outbreak of wars, through to sea levels rising at alarming rates. Each of these events has invariably brought out the best and worst of humanity. 

Award-winning poet Allen Jones,makes this observation in his debut novel, Her Death Was Also Water. When considering the recent state of the world, Allen says, ‘Most of us are doing our best. Some of us are not. Regardless, we are all together on a boat called Earth. As time inevitably moves forward, and we inevitably face enormous difficulties, I think that what matters is our ability to act while holding onto our humanity.’  

Her Death Was Also Water is a surreal and timely novel that follows seven people from very different walks of life who find themselves in a small boat together after an apocalyptic flood submerges the world. In an attempt to survive, each character confronts their past and their new reality.  

Fifteen-year-old Charlotte is at the helm of this story and is tethered to each of the characters. She is inspired by a girl Allen grew up with,  

‘She was the first person I ever lost. And she was so strong and so open.’  

The novel unfolds through multiple perspectives, allowing us to gain insight into a variety of values, attitudes and morals and this, in turn, allows Allen to address issues surrounding racism, toxic masculinity and misogyny.  

‘As a person who has lived on three different continents, issues of race and culture have always fascinated me, especially the way you cannot separate them from gender. In Her Death Was Also Water, I especially wanted to explore how complex these issues become as they meet in our lived experience,’ Allen shares.  

While this novel is partly a high seas adventure, it also a highly surreal tale that makes a poignant and poetic observation about the paradoxical nature of water. It’s clear that Allen’s own connection with the ocean has shaped his novel. He grew up by the ocean in northern California, and at one point in his twenties he was surfing every day.  

‘I would feel the roll of the waves under my body as I slept, both waking and in my dreams.  

‘Water is something that has made me feel one with the natural world and has nearly killed me.  

‘Sound familiar?’ Allen asks.  

Visit Allen C Jones’ website

Read an Extract

Author: Allen C Jones

Category: Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: MidnightSun Publishing

ISBN: 9781925227918

RRP: $29.99

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