press & praise

Named a Library Journal Most Anticipated Fall Debut

Brash, atmospheric…earthy and strange – an inventive and beguiling debut. – Kirkus Reviews

Darkly provocative with quirky characters and undertones of horror…this gloomy mystery works on multiple levels. – Publishers Weekly

“Submerged Revelations in Things We Found When the Water Went Down the Chicago Review of Books

…an ethereal, mixed media mystery novel about what we lose when the strongest, most vulnerable among us are made to disappear. —Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews (starred review)

Remarkable. This novel draws a parallel between missing/murdered Indigenous women and violence against the environment — all within a body-on-page-one murder mystery. It’s heavy lifting, but makes a lasting impression.
Christie Olson Day, recommended on the American Booksellers Association December Indie Next List

Swanson’s prose is stunning, mysterious, and intricate as she weaves together newspaper articles, letters, lists, and other types of memorabilia to create a shadowy narrative. What emerges is a book ultimately about a family searching for answers amid the psychological realities of experiencing trauma. – Sarah Neilson, Shondaland

In this wide-ranging magical realist eco-noir debut, a young woman on an isolated island investigates her mother’s disappearance and the violent secrets that lurk behind it. – the New York Times Book Review

Swanson’s non-linear storytelling approach lets the reader get richly immersed in the book’s overlapping themes: deep-seated cultures of misogynist violence, environmental degradation, and the resilient chosen families queer people build in a hostile world. That’s all just a hint of the depths, and the depths beyond the depths, that the novel explores. – Tone Madison

Intriguing and inventive . . . Swanson’s novel explores themes of violence against women, small town prejudice, and corporate disregard in fascinating and unexpected ways that fans of stylish, experimental fiction will appreciate. —Booklist

…a multi-faceted excavation of inherited trauma in both the spiritual and physical world that asks if regrowth is possible after immolation, and offers no easy answers. —Julia Fine, author of The Upstairs House

Things We Found When the Water Went Down is a cerebral, lyrical, beautiful, mysterious defiance.– Benjamin Percy, author of The Unfamiliar Garden, The Ninth Metal, and Thrill Me

With the inspiration of passion and heightened attention (which some define as prayer) to her characters and setting, Tegan Nia Swanson has written something entirely original and utterly fearless. — Rick Bass, author of The Watch, The Hermit’s Story, and All the Land That Holds Us

This is a haunting book steeped in mythology, set on a secluded island in the North Country, and a perfect choice to read on a stormy winter night.” —Caitlin L. Baker, Island Books

A beautifully examined, feminist, and compelling can’t-miss book. SIGN ME UP. —Audrey Kohler, BookWoman

…a nordic eco-noir, artifacts and collage, a missing mother accused of murder, ephemera like police transcripts and journal entries, grief and a spooky small town and a frozen lake. I, for one, have a set an alert in my phone for this one. — Kelsey, Powell’s Books.

An extremely profound epistolary mystery that will leave you breathless with it’s scope and gorgeous prose! – Nikki Siclaire, Newtonville Books

“…[r]eading Things We Found When the Water Went Down is a process of discovery, of excavation, and it’s precisely this narrative ambition that makes the book such a perfect fit [for the Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize].” – Julie Buntin, Catapult/Black Balloon associate editor

Praise for the short story “Things We Found When the Water Went Down”

“This story took me completely by surprise. I waded into its waters gingerly at first, paying attention to the detritus bobbing against the narrative: newspaper clippings, maps, tiny notes and a lost mother’s self-portraits from a mental institution. At some point, I found I couldn’t look up from its pages, couldn’t turn away from the journey of a young woman coming to terms with her mother’s mysterious rhythms: the vanishing, the coming back, only to vanish again. And something else: just beneath the story’s finely rendered realism and its net of strange documents, there lay a deeper undercurrent, a mythic feel. Is this a contemporary version of the old tale of the selkie, the seal-woman pulled up one day into a fisherman’s net, who lives on land with him, even bears his children, but finally, must return to the sea? Translucent prose, a masterful structure. So masterful that I forgot all about it. It became an element to live in—like water, or light—along with the narrator, as she plotted her coordinates, then ripped up her map and kept on searching.”

– 2013 Tobias Wolff Award judge Marjorie Sandor

“Embedded in a story about a daughter’s strained and confusing relationship with her mother are documents—maps, letters, pictures—that all add to the story. What struck me at first glance as annoying won me over quicker than I would have thought. Swanson’s prose, as contest judge Marjorie Sandor says, takes on a “mythic feel.” Readers are pulled into the floodwaters of this story early on and are not released until the very end, when all you are left with is the feeling that something very interesting just happened and it is going to take some time to figure out what exactly that was.”

– Sam Slaughter in The Review Review 

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