We, The Drowned Paperback – 7 Apr 2011
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"A magnificent addition to the canon of seafaring writing, a brilliant new reworking of the ancient theme...the pages glow with wonderfully imagined pictures... The language is all you could hope for in a sea novel: sinewy and simple, often surprisingly beautiful" (Vanora Bennett The Times)
"Carsten Jensen is unquestionably one of the most exciting authors writing in Scandinavia today. I always look forward hugely to his books. He is, in my opinion, an utterly unique story-teller" (Henning Mankell)
"An epic tale" (Independent)
"A novel of immense authority and ambition and beauty, by a master storyteller at the height of his powers. This is a book to sail into, to explore, to get lost in, but it is also a book that brings the reader, dazzled by wonders, home to the heart from which great stories come. Meet Carsten Jensen halfway and you're spellbound" (Joseph O'Connor)
"Impressive... one of the more engrossing literary voyages of recent years... rich, powerful and rewarding" (Financial Times)
A magnificent epic of war, the sea, and the men and women caught in its powerful grasp.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
We follow Albert through nearly his entire life, and watch Knud grow up. For most of the book there is the almost ghost like narration of an unseen chorus, the "we" of the title that just adds to the novel's captivating tone. The other main voice of the author is the middle part of this huge book told in the first person by Albert himself as he quests to find his father. This is just as well-written.
There's a strong supporting cast as well including Knud's childhood friend Anton, the Terror of Marstal, Klara, Knud's slightly scary mother, Herman the Seagull Killer, and Albert's captain Jack Lewis. And then of course, there's the sea with it's promise of riches and adventure and ever-present threat of death ....
The book is an epic in every sense. It's sprawling, far reaching and encompassing a variety of kinds of stories. It's an adventure story, a romance, a coming-of-age story, a war tale, a drama, and a comedy. But what stands out is the quality of the writing. And the final pages are sublime. It may be a monster in length, but it's never dull and gripping throughout. Surely a candidate for this year's literary prizes? I cannot recommend this highly enough.
I had thought that I may have built it up too much in my mind due to this long wait but 'We, The Drowned' did not disappoint me. In fact, it exceeded my expectations and is a marvellous book. Jensen writes in a deceptively simplistic style that makes it a very easy read. Indeed, I was surprised that it was translated from Danish as the narrative flows so well in English and I think Charlotte Barslund and Emma Ryder (Jensen's translators) deserve a mention for their excellent work in this regard.
I found the subject matter utterly compelling with a selection of stories and different characters covering the period between 1848-1945. The first 200 pages were fantastic and, while it slowed a little after that, it rapidly regained pace when the character of Knud Erik became the main focus of the narrative.
The storyline covers an immense range of topics (including three major wars) but excels when it comes to examining the characters and motives of the main protagonists. The fact that I missed some characters (such as Laurids and Albert Madsen) as they fell by the wayside reveals what a good job the author has done in this regard. Jensen doesnt shy away from tales of violence, war, murder, loss and cruelty in this book and they exert a disturbingly magnetic appeal.Read more ›
The male characters are vividly brought to life and so is something of the life of the town - the town breakwater symbolises for one of the four heroes the kind of collective spirit that has enabled Marstal to grow and succeed. The plot is episodic in the nature of things, but the episodes are all enjoyable and inventive - you can never tell what will happen next and you want to find out. And no episode outstays its welcome. Indeed I was sad to reach the end of this book.
I found it a little less persuasive in its portrayal of the women and the anti-seafaring strategy of Kara Friis who tries hard to put an end to the business of seafaring in the town through a strategy of benign neglect of the opportunities for modernisation. (There are surely and obviously better strategies, like introducing alternative industry or opportunities to the town and it seems just unpersuasive that this wouldn't occur to her….)
Overall, however, I enjoyed this a great deal and would recommend it strongly to others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Picked up on a whim, and one of the most surprising and engaging novels I've read in years. A new favourite, likely to be re-read repeatedly. Read morePublished 11 days ago by JCM
I went in a little skeptical to read this book. I largely bought it on a whim in a book store based on the cover and struggled to get past the first few pages but once I was in I... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Interesting read. Good flow. Detail excellent but not too much. Characterisations very good. Really enjoyedPublished 10 months ago by Kindle Customer
At first I found this, not difficult exactly, more not interesting. Having given up after about 50 pages (it has nearly 700) I went back to it (only because I needed something to... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Colleen
I am always searching for that perfect read. The story that pulls you in and holds you enthralled for a short time before letting you go. This book is such a tale. Read morePublished 15 months ago by M. M. Lomas
A very good read. Well written and it's format makes it perfect for just 'picking up and having a quiet read' when you can steal a bit of time to do so.Published 16 months ago by CunningArtificer
I loved this book, genuinely loved it. It is full of the ocean, of seafarers tales, of mystery, humanity and inhumanity. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Tuor mac