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In this debut collection, Chinelo Okparanta introduces us to families burdened equally by the past and the future. Here, we meet a childless couple with very different desires; a college professor comforting a troubled student; a mother seeking refuge from an abusive husband; an embittered spinster recalling the loss of a dear childhood friend; and a young woman waiting to join her lover abroad. High expectations - whether of success in Nigeria, or the dream of opportunity and accomplishment in America - consume them. In language that is both raw and elegant, Okparanta's stories are often told from the point of a view of a child - a little girl, an adult daughter. Her closely observed characters populate stories that offer a clear-eyed view of an often traumatic family life, questioning the purpose of their time on earth, and whether there is a hereafter, or a different kind of afterlife altogether, outside of Port Harcourt. Happiness, Like Water heralds the arrival of a fearless and sensitive literary voice.