George Bowering is primarily a poet and short-story writer. He published his first novel, Mirror on the Floor, in 1967. Burning Water, his second novel, won the Governor General’s Award for fiction but received mixed reactions from reviewers and little response from the scholarly community.
The novel is best viewed in context with a group of other novels written in British Columbia which could be described as works of magical realism. Robert Harlow’s Scann (1972), Jack Hodgins’ The Invention of the World (1977), and Susan Musgrave’s The Charcoal Burners (1980) all reflect a similar concern for exploring the British Columbian imagination.