Flesh and Bone and Water

Luiza Sauma (Author)


From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a seductive, dazzling, atmospheric story of family, class, and deception set against the mesmerizing backdrops of Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon River, and London.

André is a listless Brazilian teenager and the son of a successful plastic surgeon who lives a life of wealth and privilege, shuttling between the hot sands of Ipanema beach and his family's luxurious penthouse apartment. In 1985, when he is just sixteen, André's mother is killed in a car accident. Clouded with grief, André, his younger brother Thiago, and his father travel with their domestic help to Belem, a jungle city on the mouth of the Amazon, where the intense heat of the rainforest only serves to heighten their volatile emotions. After they arrive back in Rio, André's father loses himself in his work, while André spends his evenings in the family apartment with Luana, the beautiful daughter of the family's maid.

Three decades later, and now a successful surgeon himself, André is a middle-aged father, living in London, and recently separated from his British wife. He drinks too much wine and is plagued by recurring dreams. One day he receives an unexpected letter from Luana, which begins to reveal the other side of their story, a story André has long repressed.

In deeply affecting prose, debut novelist Luiza Sauma transports readers to a dramatic place where natural wonder and human desire collide. Cutting across race and class, time and place, from London to Rio to the dense humidity of the Amazon, Flesh and Bone and Water straddles two worlds with haunting meditations on race, sex, and power in a deftly plotted coming-of-age story about the nature of identity, the vicissitudes of memory, and how both can bend to protect us from the truth.

Product Details

Scribner Book Company
Publish Date
June 20, 2017
6.2 X 1.2 X 9.0 inches | 0.95 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Luiza Sauma was born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in London. After studying English at the University of Leeds, she worked at the Independent on Sunday for several years. She has an MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was awarded the Pat Kavanagh Award in 2014. She has also been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Flesh and Bone and Water is her first novel.


"I devoured this stunning debut by Luiza Sauma. An immersive, heartbreaking coming of age story. Beg, borrow or steal a copy."--Susie Steiner, author of Missing, Presumed
"Luiza Sauma's debut novel is that rare thing: a completely absorbing, brilliantly-designed, literary work. Her ability to cut across time and continents and to inhabit the physical and inner life of both a young Brazilian and that same man in middle-age is as dazzling as the novel's plot. The reveal, when it comes, is astonishing--sensuous, shocking, and completely earned."--Anita Shreve, New York Times bestselling author of The Pilot's Wife and Stella Bain
"Luiza Sauma's first novel, Flesh and Bone and Water, is lush and evocative. The secret at the center came as a shocking surprise, and the characters were as haunted as I was. Sip a caipirinha and enjoy."--Lisa See
"An arresting debut about memory and trauma...resembles Julian Barnes' 2011 Man Booker winner The Sense of an Ending."--The Daily Telegraph
"[Sauma's] writing is beautiful. I am sure I'll see her name on the spine of many a novel to come.--Rachel Seiffert, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted The Dark Room
"Sauma's writing is sensual and evocative. Flesh and Bone and Water is a powerful depiction of sexual attraction and long lost loves; a haunting weave of Rio, the Amazon and present-day London."--Ardashir Vakil, award-winning author of Beach Boy

"Sauma's work is engaging, her descriptions of Rio evocative...attuned to the complexities of class and station."--Kirkus Reviews
"[In Sauma's] mysterious debut...Brazil is marvellously conjured: full of hot, smoky sunrises and manioc pancakes, chilled coconut milk and the salty violence of Ipanema."-- The New Yorker
"Teenage love is well documented, but Sauma finds some interesting things to say about it in her debut novel... Sauma convincingly evokes the cacophony of Rio. Moving... it offers an indelible glimpses into Brazil's stratified society." --The Sunday Times
"A confident debut...Sauma's excellent prose is thoroughly consuming, bouncing between continents and eras to create a complicated tale of class, ancestry, and love in which happy endings are difficult to find but hope remains."-- Publishers Weekly
"[A] quiet, inwardly focused, fast-moving, and well-plotted debut...Brazilian-born Sauma depicts her and her protagonist's vast, beguiling homeland with sweltering realism."-- Booklist
"A remarkable debut from Brazilian emigrée Luiza Sauma... a wonderful evocation of a privileged Ipanema beach childhood, a searing critique of a deeply divided society and - with its intoxicating combination of tropical heat and overpowering passions - the perfect beach read." - Mariella Frostrup, RadioTimes