Properties of Thirst (Large Print / Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Properties of Thirst is powerful epic, sweeping and cinematic, grounded in the 1940’s politics of water-use and the role that it played in shaping the history of the southern California foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the decision by the federal government to incarcerate American citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps during WWII. It's about water and the American west, the Japanese internment camp at Manzanar, and the personal and political struggles of the novel’s complicated, larger-than-life characters (Rocky, Sunny, Stryker, Cas, and Schiff) who are trying to save their land, their family, and their country, with Schiff being one of the most interesting jewish characters  i've read lately! (the novel actually has 2 important jewish characters.) There is unexpected humor to the whole book, with asides on food, French cooking, Hollywood, and harp music, and tales of the political conflicts between the Los Angeles Water Board and the farmers/ranchers of Owens Valley, but the story really comes alive in describing the building of the Manzanar concentration camp. With its beautifully created sentences, beautifully crafted plot, its exquisite prose, vibrant descriptions, and its unflinching portrayal of this dark period in American history, Properties of Thirst really is brilliant, a modern-day classic, a great American novel. Ed loved and highly recommends!

— Ed

August 2022 Indie Next List

“Words don’t do this book justice. A family tale, a moral novel of a shameful time in our history, and a love story built with care and humor. You won’t want to leave the Rhodes family when the novel ends. Grab this and fall under its spell.”
— Anne Whalen, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI


Fifteen years after the publication of Evidence of Things Unseen, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist Marianne Wiggins returns with a novel destined to be an American classic: a sweeping masterwork set during World War II about the meaning of family and the limitations of the American Dream.

Rockwell Rocky Rhodes has spent years fiercely protecting his California ranch from the LA Water Corporation. It is here where he and his beloved wife, Lou, raised their twins, Sunny and Stryker, and it is here where Rocky has mourned Lou in the years since her death.

As Sunny and Stryker reach the cusp of adulthood, the country teeters on the brink of war. Stryker decides to join the fight, deploying to Pearl Harbor not long before the bombs strike. Soon, Rocky and his family find themselves facing yet another incomprehensible tragedy.

Rocky is determined to protect his remaining family and the land where they've loved and lost so much. But when the government decides to build a Japanese-American internment camp next to the ranch, Rocky realizes that the land faces even bigger threats than the LA watermen he's battled for years. Complicating matters is the fact that the idealistic Department of the Interior man assigned to build the camp, who only begins to understand the horror of his task after it may be too late, becomes infatuated with Sunny and entangled with the Rhodes family.

Properties of Thirst is a novel that is both universal and intimate. It is the story of a changing American landscape and an examination of one of the darkest periods in this country's past, told through the stories of the individual loves and losses that weave together to form the fabric of our shared history. Ultimately, it is an unflinching distillation of our nation's essence--and a celebration of the bonds of love and family that persist against all odds.

Product Details
ISBN: 9798212030908
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Language: English