top of page



ISBN: 978-0-9988014-9-0

Binding: Trade paper

Pages: 184

Publication date: Sept. 5, 2019


With settings that range from the Cuban Missile Crisis and Soviet-era Perestroika to present-day San Francisco, LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES, the first English-language collection from Leningrad-born author Olga Zilberbourg, looks at family and childrearing in ways both unsettling and tender, and characters who grapple with complicated legacies—of state, parentage, displacement, and identity. LIKE WATER is a unique portrayal of motherhood, of immigration and adaptation, and an inside account of life in the Soviet Union and its dissolution. Zilberbourg’s stories investigate how motherhood reshapes the sense of self—and in ways that are often bewildering—against an uncharted landscape of American culture.

Praise for LIKE WATER

Like Water and Other Stories is a wonderful, unique gem of a book. These stories cast a clear, illuminating light on topics ranging from motherhood, the workplace, birth, death, ambition, and immigration, all explored through exquisitely wrought characters in Russia and the United States. They shine with wistful, funny, deep insights and compassion; Olga Zilberbourg is a writer to read right now.
Karen E. Bender, author of Refund, Finalist for the National Book Award

In Olga Zilberbourg's kaleidoscopic collection Like Water, years pass in moments, the space between continents dissolves, and conventions constantly get upended. Zilberbourg keeps on delighting and surprising as she twists the lens on motherhood, friendship, and the literary life to see each from yet another new, illuminating angle. Warm-hearted, heady, funny, and meditative—Like Water dazzles like few other collections.
Will Boast, author of Daphne and Power Ballads

Wry and wise and wildly inventive. Olga Zilberbourg is a true original. Like Water is like nothing you’ve ever read before.”
Jennifer duBois, author of Cartwheel and A Partial History of Lost Causes

Like Water is a book of succinct abundance, dazzling in its particulars, expansive in its scope. Olga Zilberbourg ventures through and beyond the realms of realism in stories evoking the dark magic of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, the epigrammatic perfection of Alex Epstein, and the capacious gaze of the 19th-century masters. She writes of Russia and America, parenthood and aging, history and identity. Throughout, she peels back the timelessness from the old verities and offers them newly made, freshly observed, gathered in this collection of wonders.
Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena  and The Tsar of Love and Techno

The stories in Like Water, to quote a character in one of them, vibrate with life. They may be brief, but don't call them short-shorts or flash or micro anything, these are fully engaged encounters with life and death and birth and motherhood and all that comes in-between. These are stories. And Zilberbourg knows that as soon as one story ends, there's another to be heard, remembered, collected, told and re-told. Here's an example: Take this man, Stepan. He survived the winter of 1992 without heat or running water in his grandfather's apartment in downtown Yerevan. You see what I mean? Don't you want to know how he did it? Kudos to Olga Zilberbourg for a truly terrific collection.

Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here?

Olga Zilberbourg’s gorgeous English debut LIKE WATER pays deep homage to the beauties and heartaches of parenthood. These are stories about choices, consequences, and identities lost and found. I read and loved each and every moment of this collection. Brava!
Hannah Pittard, author of Visible Empire 


About the author  

Olga Zilberbourg is the author of three Russian-language story collections, the most recent of which was published in Moscow in 2016. Her English- language fiction and criticism have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Narrative Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Common, and Electric Literature. Born in Leningrad, USSR, she came of age during the country’s disintegration, when the fall of the Iron Curtain created unprecedented travel and educational opportunities. Among the first in a wave of post-Soviet youth to study abroad and in the United States, Zilberbourg attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Goethe Institute in Germany, and the San Francisco State University, where she earned an M.A. in Comparative Literature. She has worked as an associate editor at Narrative Magazine and currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.               

Course adoptions
Like Water and Other Stories is perfect for course adoptions and may be used in a number of classes, including literature seminars, creative writing workshops, and many other interdisciplinary courses. Please see more info here or contact us directly.

Like Water and Other Stories by Olga Zilberbourg


bottom of page