Submergence Hardcover – 21 Jul 2011
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"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
The second novel by the author of the highly praised Giraffe.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
SUBMERGENCE [By J M Ledgard]. This guy lives in South Africa but was born in Scotland. Not American, anyway. It has good reviews on Amazon generally . . . Read morePublished 7 months ago by KIKAREN
A thought provoking exploration of what it is to be human told through the stories of the desert and the ocean deep with threads of the literature of Hell and the Abyss woven... Read morePublished on 7 July 2013 by Bobleckridge
I bought this on the basis of a glowing review in Word magazine and the numerous 5* reviews here. I was thus very much looking forward to it.
What a waste of time! Read more
Beautifully written with wonderful complexity, Submergence is the sort of book that the Booker used to be about before they dumbed it down. Read morePublished on 29 Nov. 2011 by Sarah