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Heavy Water

Award for the best Debut novel 2023

Cankar Award shortlist

Critics’ Sieve Award shortlist

Kresnik Award shortlist


With her novel Heavy Water, Pia Prezelj proves that it is possible to cook up a contemporary story set in the Slovene countryside and place in it a strong female protagonist. – Ana Schnabl

Year of publication: 2023
No. of pages: 120
Dimensions: 13 x 20 cm

In the world inhabited by Ida, Marta, Tone and Lojze, tomatoes rot in the garden, stuffed rabbits are perched on bedside tables, and cows sooner or later need to be shot between the eyes. Not surprising then, if someone has a fateful slip on the muddy soil or their head gets crushed by a tree – after all, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and above all He forgives.
In the novel Heavy Water, a unique anatomy of guilt that breaks with the tradition of Slovene storytelling, fragments of the life of the older protagonist Ida, amidst the consequences of a concealed past and an unlived future, gradually assemble into a chipped whole. Through its expressive, perfected style, it reveals especially the bitter truth about how in a small village community everyone’s lives are entangled. Where everything appears to be clear cut, one secret brings about new secrets.

Pia Prezelj

Pia Prezelj (1995) is a writer, translator and journalist for the cultural section of Delo, Slovenia’s largest and central daily newspaper. In 2022, she was awarded the Young Journalist of the Year Watchdog Award by the Slovenian Journalists’ Association. Her translation of Lucia Berlin’s short story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women was published in 2018 by Cankarjeva založba. Heavy Water (Goga, 2023) is her debut novel.