The second novel by the author of the highly praised Giraffe.
In a room with no windows on the eastern coast of Africa, an Englishman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Posing as a water engineer to spy on al-Qaeda activity in the area, he now faces extreme privation, mock executions and forced marches through arid Somali badlands. Thousands of miles away on the Greenland Sea, Danielle Flinders, a biomathematician, prepares for a dive to the ocean floor to determine the extent and forms of life in the deep.
Both are drawn back, in their thoughts, to the Christmas of the previous year, and to a French hotel on the Atlantic coast, where a chance encounter on the beach led to an intense and enduring romance, now stretching across continents. For James, a descendant of Thomas More, his mind escapes to utopias, and fragments of his life and learning before his incarceration, now haunting him. Danny is drawn back to mythical and scientific origins and to the ocean: immense and otherworldly, a comfort and a threat.
Submergence is a love story, a meditation on mortality, and a vivid portrayal of man's place on Earth. With it J. M. Ledgard proves himself a writer of large horizons and vast ambition.
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J. M. LEDGARD was born in 1968. He is a foreign correspondent for The Economist in Africa.From Booklist:
Submergence is an example of an emerging genre: postmodern literary airport fiction. Offering myriad pleasures in its prose, it is studded with references and takes a nonlinear, episodic approach to a story featuring glamorous James More, an English spy and descendant of Sir Thomas More, and Danielle “Danny” Flinders, of Martinique and Australia, a sexy oceanographer and biomathematician. They meet and fall in love at a small, charming European hotel just before Christmas. As the tale begins, More is a prisoner of jihadists in Somalia, while Flinders is on a scientific mission on the Greenland Sea, exploring deep-sea vents. As Ledgard, author of Giraffe (2006) and an Africa-based correspondent for the Economist, tacks between widely divergent experiences, delightful essayistic digressions erupt. At times the story becomes superfluous, an armature for rhapsodies about the ocean, the desert, ideology, and the meaning of life. Ledgard strikes all the octaves on the keyboard. The result is a novel that is at once silly in the James Bond mode, beautiful, and extraordinary. An ambitious work that will provoke strong reactions. --Michael Autrey
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