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Submergence Hardcover – 21 Jul 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (21 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224091379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224091374
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 1.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 502,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.M. Ledgard was born in the Shetland Islands in 1968. He is a political and war correspondent for The Economist and a thinker on risk and technology in emerging economies. He lives and works in Africa.

Product Description

Review

"A world-spanning spy story, a hyper-literary novel, Submergence succeeds, and is immensely pleasurable, because Ledgard's magnetic north is... such an uncanny, inhuman and deathly place. It is a point far below the familiar sea, at the very bottom of the ocean; it is the hadopelagic, the Hadal deep, from the Greek Hades, meaning unseen. This is where we consciousness-addicted human beings are heading as millennial gravity pulls us down. It will be a submergence. You will take your place in the boiling-hot fissures, among the teeming hordes of nameless micro-organisms that mimic no forms, because they are the foundation of all forms. Including, in some unfathomable way, the form of this wonderful novel."--Toby Litt, New Statesman

"From the icy depths of the Greenland Sea to the sweltering plains of a Somali Islamist training camp, Ledgard's masterful second novel is a beautifully crafted, rigorously researched, and deeply affecting love story."--Steve Bloomfield, Monocle

Book Description

The second novel by the author of the highly praised Giraffe.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm in two minds about 'Submergence'. It is rich in imagery and ideas, and filled with sumptuous description, but I found it frustratingly incoherent. Broken up into small sections, some only a paragraph long, it ruminates on love, faith and existence. It marries science and philosophy, terrorism and exploration, but I found there was little to drive me to read on. Each section was interesting in isolation, but if I'd lost the book halfway through I would not have felt a desperate need to find out what happened to the novel's two protagonists.

The two central characters are spy and scientist. They meet in a French hotel, and are instantly attracted. Forced by circumstance they go their separate ways. One will be captured by terrorists, the other will travel into the depths of the ocean.

The narrative timeline is all over the place. Danny's (female scientist) is more or less linear but James's moves back in forth in time. The novel opens with his being held hostage, before returning to the two meeting in France. As James' captivity lengthens, his thoughts and recollections become more erratic and philosophical, which adds to the lack of coherence.

The descriptions though are incredible, and the thoughts and emotions portrayed intense. The sections set in the French hotel are so evocative, you can see the rooms, taste the food, and feel the cold. So real and wonderful did this hotel seem, I searched for it on the Internet. Sadly, I'm not sure it exists.

The two stories on the surface have little in common. One is about exploration and the excitement of discovery, the other a horrible tale of abuse and mistreatment. Yet Ledgard teases out similarities. Somalia is in the fertile crescent, the ocean bed contains the building blocks for life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By pq on 13 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
LOVED IT, absolutely tore through it, it's a gripping NOW story, that gives incredible insight, detail, and colour into each area it touches, including jihadist fighters, a 'real' spy, kidnapping, captivity, marine biology, biomathematics, & deep sea trenches. It yanks you along at a great pace, stylistically extremely refreshing, interspersed with super interesting facts and segues, the writer flips from section to section but in a totally fluid way - Eddie Van Halen springs to mind, you will see what I mean by that comment when you read it. A truly original piece of work, an absolute pleasure. I finished the book a richer person. BUY IT!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Natural sceptic on 26 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Wrongly beautiful, like a scan of a damaged brain": a city seen at night in this strange, wonderful novel, which is full of arresting images and startling thoughts. It made me think of that thing we used to do as children, writing our address as "name, street, town, England, Europe, the world, the universe"--that sense of individuals existing in an expanding circle of place, but also, in this book, of time--today, the noughties, the modern era, etc. This novel will haunt you. I can see why some people have compared Ledgard's writing to TS Eliot's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roman Totale on 14 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
it's a wonderful book. commits what for me is normally the cardinal sin of moving between different plotlines, but here it works because the writers does it so elegantly and you're so interested in them all and they're so marvellously connnected. unlike other reviewers here, i couldn't read this quickly. i found some of the passages so moving and disturbing that i couldn't hurry on. also the writing is so dense. dense in the very positive sense that it carries a lot, is always elegant and doesn't take short cuts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Newens on 21 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This beautifully written book exposes the different worlds embedded beneath the surface of the one we are living in: worlds of science, art, luxury, horror, war etc.

It feels impressively up to date in the parts on the war on terror, and paints what we can only assume is a very accurate picture of the desperate situation on the Horn of Africa at present.

The other two main story strands -- one set in a French hotel, the other on the Greenland Sea -- while nice to read are almost too much of a pleasure: the hotel sequence relentlessly invites us into vicarious luxury, while there's a bit of an "Ain't it cool" strand to the deep sea facts spouted during the books time on the Greenland Sea.

Likewise, the book's two main characters are a little bit "too cool for school", almost straying into romantic fiction territory: a British ,strong silent former-soldier-current-spy, and a Eurotrash-y voluptuous, hyper-intelligent, oceanographer.

All in all though, the book's strengths outweigh its weaknesses. The prose style alone makes it worth the read.
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