Nora Ikstena 'Glistening of Water' (2021)

The novel 'Glistening of Water' is the newest work written by Nora Ikstena – the author of the world-famous novel 'Soviet Milk', published in 2015. The storyline is centred around a woman named Marija, who seems to live several lives whilst travelling around the world. The main character is followed along the storyline by the Eye, which observes everything with 'view from above'.

The annotation

Marija is just Marija, she never believed that her meaningless life will once be saved by a man who loves her to death. There is only your own path, your own delusions, and small glimpses of sense. Your own hells and your own paradises that all take place here on earth, right here in this life, where you will have to answer for everything and receive the fruit of your labour…


'This novel is a vision about the search for a new field of existence; when you reach middle age it seems like everything has already been experienced, albeit the horizons of fulfilment seem to be frighteningly unreachable and far.'

Dace Sparāne-Freimane, 'Dienas Grāmata'

'The novel' Glistening of Water 'is like a church song echoing in the darkness of the vaults - the words are only understandable in parts, but the melody is flawless.'

Bārbala Simsone, 'Kultūras Diena'

'Although the novel is not entirely autobiographical, the feelings portrayed in it are very personal, otherwise it would not be possible to illustrate them.'

Anna Belkovska, 'Delfi Kultūra'

An interview with the author

'Glistening water is one of my favourite natural phenomena. Oftentimes I like to watch it on the river Daugava,' Nora Ikstena said in an interview with the project 'Library' in September 2020, during the writing of the novel. 'The glistening effect only occurs when sunlight falls on the surface of water in a peculiar way. It's a short moment, just like a rainbow - you see that it's real, but one moment later, this reality has disappeared. I decided that it would represent a unifying element - the glistening of water as a symbol of how we each see and experience the reality. Our perceived reality is glistening and disappearing, glistening and disappearing.'

Facts about the novel

The story is complemented by graphic motifs created by Aivars Vilipsōns. The artist behind the book design is Katrīna Vasiļevska.

Nora Ikstena wrote the first pages of the novel in January 2020, in Spain. The rest of the work was written in Latvia and Norway.

The book was created with the support of the long-standing patron of Latvian literature 'Baltic International Bank', and the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation

Valērijs Belokoņs on the support of Nora Ikstena’s book

'The beauty of the word is always revealed in its original form,' says Valērijs Belokoņs, a long-time patron of Latvian literature and the majority shareholder of 'Baltic International Bank', in an interview about supporting the work of Nora Ikstena. 'Sooner or later, readers want to enjoy well-written books in their original language. Consequently, if more talented people write beautiful books, others are more likely to learn, read and promote the language it is written in. The development of language is stimulated by talented people.

Nora Ikstena about literary work

'We all use language, but a writer uses it differently – a writer lives and breathes language. On one hand, there’s a desire to live life as it is, on the other hand – to constantly seize every moment that could later be written about.'

'Thinking about the 25+ books I've written so far, I can no longer distinguish between what has been my life and what were the stories about my life.'

'Living this almost double life between reality and imagination, between real experiences and stories, that later become a universal story, it is not an easy task.'

An excerpt from the novel 'Glistening of Water'

'The Eye had risen high above the clouds. The incredibly bright sun reflected over the vast body of water below. The tiny cumulus clouds were scattered over the glistening water. Now I know what it looks like from above. When you have ascended or have been elevated. When you have achieved such freedom that it turns almost burdening. When there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Foolish delusions. Our notions of our existence. That we lose in order to gain, and we gain in order to losse. That after your darkest time, the sun will rise again. That everything is in balance .... '

Find out the rest in the novel…