The Water Diviner and Other Stories

In this thought-provoking collection, Sri Lankan immigrants grapple with events that challenge perspectives and alter lives.

A volunteer faces memories of wartime violence when she meets a cantankerous old lady on a Meals on Wheels route. A lonely widow obsessed with an impending apocalypse meets an oddly inspiring man. A maidservant challenges class divisions when she becomes an American professor’s wife. An angry tenant fights suspicion when her landlord is burgled. Hardened inmates challenge a young jail psychiatrist’s competence. A father wonders whether to expose his young son’s bully at a basketball game. A student facing poverty courts a benefactor. And in the depths of an isolated Wyoming winter, a woman tries to resist a con artist. These and other tales explore the immigrant experience with a piercing authenticity.

Editorial Reviews

  • “Mesmerizing, tranquil, and worldly, these stories kept me transfixed. Each is a long, beautiful excursion into the difficulty and suspense of human relationships. One emerges from the book believing life to be more peaceful and more intense than before. A wonderful, masterful work of art.”

    —Rebecca Lee, judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award

  • “With a steady hand, soft heart, and sharp insights, Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer miraculously balances the precarious beam of identity and cultural displacement. The stories in The Water Diviner speak straight to the soul, its universal aches and voids, and we are better for getting to know these characters.”

    —Nancy Zafris, author, The Home Jar: Stories

About Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer

Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer grew up in Sri Lanka and lived in India, Thailand, Canada and Australia before settling in the United States. Her short fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and her essays and short stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Summerset Review, Quiddity, Michigan Quarterly Review, Stand, The American Literary Review, The Examined Life, and many other venues. She won the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2004 and the Iowa Short Fiction Award in 2018. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago, and has also written reference books and psychology articles. She teaches at New York University.