Dryland by Sara Jaffe, published by Cipher Press

Sara Jaffe - Dryland


  • £9.99

A tender, meditative, and quietly kaleidoscopic novel about the '90s, queer adolescence, and swimming. 

It's 1992 in Portland, Oregon. Fifteen-year-old Julie Winter moves through her days as if underwater - watching skaters through the constant rain, detached from her best friend's crushes, listening to the same R.E.M. B-side on repeat. The rest of the world is caught up in the AIDS crisis, the war in Yugoslavia, and grunge. But to Julie it's all background.

No one at home talks about her older brother, a once-champion swimmer who could be living in Berlin, or could be anywhere. And although she spends her time searching for pictures of him in the pages of Swimmer's World magazine, she'd never considered swimming herself. Until Alexis, captain of the swimming team, tries to recruit her.

What starts as a flirtation and an infatuation becomes a chance to join in with the world, find out what really happened to her brother, or finally let him go.

Yearning, stifled, and sharp, Dryland is an anti-coming out novel that captures gauzy queer exploration at its quietest and its most loud. 


"The perfect indie-rock love song, an anthem for lonely '90s queer kids - a little melancholy, a little surly, a little dirty" - Andrea Lawlor 

"Be still my gay grunge heart" - Beth Ditto 

"A brilliant, beautiful, and evocatiive first novel, full of historical and experiential details that I had never quite articulated to myself and was so grateful and happy to find written down. Sara Jaffe is a treasure" - Elif Batuman 

"Remarkable. It's realism, but its realism brushes ever so deftly against the allegorical, making the novel shimmer, part diary, part dream" - Maggie Nelson 

A gorgeous, layered, meticulous, clamouring, beating heart of a thing" - Sara Marcus 


  • paperback   197 x 130 x 22 (mm)  |  222g  |  216 pages 
  • Edition published 2021 (first published 2015 by Tin House) 


  • recommended readership:   general  |  LGBTQIA+ fiction 


Sara Jaffe is a writer, musician, and educator living in Portland, Oregon. She was guitarist in the band Erase Errata, and co-edited The Art of Touring, an anthology of writing and visual art by musicians. Dryland is her first novel.  


also available from Cipher Press: 
Brontez Purnell - Since I Laid My Burden Down   paperback 
Brontez Purnell - 100 Boyfriends   paperback 



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