We, the Drowned: Book summary and reviews of We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen

We, the Drowned

by Carsten Jensen

We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen X
We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2011
    688 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Carsten Jensen's debut novel has taken the world by storm. Already hailed in Europe as an instant classic, We, the Drowned is the story of the port town of Marstal, whose inhabitants have sailed the world's oceans aboard freight ships for centuries. Spanning over a hundred years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War, and from the barren rocks of Newfoundland to the lush plantations of Samoa, from the roughest bars in Tasmania, to the frozen coasts of northern Russia, We, the Drowned spins a magnificent tale of love, war, and adventure, a tale of the men who go to sea and the women they leave behind.

Ships are wrecked at sea and blown up during wars, they are places of terror and violence, yet they continue to lure each generation of Marstal men - fathers and sons - away. Strong, resilient, women raise families alone and sometimes take history into their own hands. There are cannibals here, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, forbidden passions, cowards, heroes, devastating tragedies, and miraculous survivals; everything that a town like Marstal has actually experienced, and that makes We, the Drowned an unforgettable novel, destined to take its place among the greatest seafaring literature.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. By the time readers turn the final page, they will have come to intimately know this town and its sailors who tear out across an unforgiving sea." - Publishers Weekly

"Starting off slowly, Jensen's novel builds momentum and becomes quite thrilling and engaging on many levels ... It may not appeal to a large audience, but it won't disappoint those willing to make the effort." - Library Journal

"An elegant meditation on life, death and the ways of the sea." - Kirkus "This is a great hamper of a novel, and some of what is packed into it – for instance, the rogue ship laden with Melanesians as fodder for cannibals – fits in only with difficulty alongside its more sober stories. That is possibly the point. Life is not tidy, just as seas can always turn wild, bringing the deaths their measurelessness symbolises. Every day gives us cause for fear and sorrow but, as on the celebratory one with which the novel concludes, we can defy them by 'dancing with the drowned' because 'they were us'." - The Independent (UK)

"There is brutality and sin galore: lashings, blood, guts, humiliations, betrayals and horrible death on practically every page. Yet the language is all you could hope for in a sea novel: sinewy and simple, often surprisingly beautiful, often full of tongue-in-cheek laughter." - The Times (UK)

"The Odyssey, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Moby-Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, Rites of Passage … and now We, The Drowned. The canon of great seafaring literature just got bigger by a book." - The Scotsman

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More Information

As a boy in Marstal, Denmark, Carsten Jensen sailed on his father’s boat, a 220-ton freighter named the Abelone. In 2000, he returned to Marstal to write We, the Drowned (Vi, de druknede, 2007). He has also worked as a literary critic and a journalist, reporting from China, Cambodia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and Afghanistan. We, the Drowned won Denmark's most important literary prize, while also being selected by readers of a major daily newspaper as the best Danish novel of the last twenty-five years. It was a bestseller throughout Scandinavia and in Germany, and has also been published in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France.

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