Sara Jaffe is a fiction writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her short fiction and criticism have appeared in publications including Fence, BOMB, NOON, Paul Revere’s Horse, matchbook, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She coedited The Art of Touring (Yeti, 2009), an anthology of writing and visual art by musicians drawing on her experience as guitarist for post-punk band Erase Errata.
“Exceptional debut, a heartfelt coming-of-age story. . . .Using spare, precise prose, and with a fresh, strong voice, Jaffe explores Julie’s budding sexuality, her unexpected attraction to Alexis, her awareness of the limitations of friendship, and the angst young women face as they begin to confront adulthood.” —STARRED, Publishers Weekly
“A coming-of-age story about a young girl’s growing awareness—of sexuality, loss, and family truths. . . . [W]e relive the awkward agonies of adolescence, so well-sketched by Jaffe . . . Moving sideways with its weight of secrets, this novel never strikes a false note.” —Kirkus
“Jaffe’s writing is crisp and tender… prose so tight it holds us on the verge of exploding.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“The chronicle of a teenage girl in Portland circa 1992, it reads like My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase cut with Annie Dillard, plus something all Jaffe’s own.” —Megan Burbank, The Murcury (Staff Pick)
“Sara Jaffe’s Dryland is a poignant coming of age novel set in the Portland of the early ’90s, a fascinating debut.”—Largehearted Boy
“Achy in that way that nostalgia for the teen years is. Ethereal, shrouded in mist, like the Pacific Northwest the book is set in, seeming at once crisp and fuzzy. Like waking up from a really vivid dream.” —Keysmash
“…a powerful book with a unique voice.”—A Bookish Affair
“The real highlight of this month was Dryland by Sara Jaffe. It’s such a small book, and it packs a huge punch. It takes place in the 90’s, and somehow reminded me a lot of The Perks of Being a Wallflower … It’s about swimming, and families, and growing up, and so many things in under 200 pages. Amazing.” —Read A Latte
“Remarkable. It’s realism, but its realism brushes ever so deftly against the allegorical, making the novel shimmer, part diary, part dream.”—Maggie Nelson, author of The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning
“Sara Jaffe is a damn fine writer and an important new voice.”—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
“I love it. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that felt more sincere, that was so unbesmirched by knowing irony or commentary or authorial interventions. It’s a rare and sweet thing.”—Pete Rock, author of The Shelter Cycle
“Dryland is a gorgeous, layered, meticulous, clamoring, beating heart of a thing about a sullen teenager swimming and not swimming, kissing and not kissing, in Portland in the days of grunge. It will make you want to swim there back there back twenty times without stopping.” —Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front
There had been a time when my dad and I would go pick up my brother at practice. We’d wait in the car and my brother would always be the last one out. He would swing his red bag like his arm was a windmill and he was about to let the bag go and send it sailing. While we waited in the station wagon, my dad and I would play There He Is. A short boy with glasses would come out of the building. A girl with curly blonde hair. My dad would say, There he is! My dad would say, Well, hello son, you’re looking a little different today, and I would go pink with laughter. When my brother finally came out of the building, always last, he would lope toward us, unhurried, windmilling his red swim bag, readying it for the launch, and my dad would say, Where? Where? I don’t see him. There! I’d say. I’d go pink with frustration.
There! There! There!