In a room with no windows on the coast of Africa, an Englishman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Posing as a water expert to report on al-Qaeda activity in the area, he now faces extreme privation, mock executions, and forced marches through the arid badlands of Somalia. Thousands of miles away on the Greenland Sea, Danielle Flinders, a biomathematician, half-French, half-Australian, prepares to dive in a submersible to the ocean floor. She is obsessed with the life that multiplies in the darkness of the lowest strata of water.
Both are drawn back to the previous Christmas, and to a French hotel on the Atlantic coast, where a chance encounter on the beach led to an intense and enduring romance. For James, his mind escapes to utopias both imagined and remembered. Danny is drawn back to beginnings: to mythical and scientific origins, and to her own. It is to each other and to the ocean that they most frequently return: magnetic and otherworldly, a comfort and a threat.
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"Starred Review. This beautifully written novel... may be more of a novel of ideas than a novel full stop, but it is profoundly readable and unfailingly interesting." - Publishers Weekly
"While the nonlinear structure is initially frustrating, there are enough brutal and beautiful moments to make this book absorbing." - Kirkus
"An ambitious narrative that is stark, serene and contemplative...Here is an artist's novel that achieves the ultimate goal of any writer: it makes us pause and think, and think again." - The Irish Times
"Submergence is a masterly evocation of the intricacy of life, human and otherwise, but also of pain, pleasure, and the unknown depths. A strange and beguiling novel. The reader is pulled along by the undertow of Ledgard's intelligence." - Teju Cole
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J. M. Ledgard was born in the Shetland Islands. He has been a correspondent for The Economist since 1995, specialising in foreign political and war reporting. He currently works in Africa, traveling widely in the continent. He is also considered a leading thinker on risk and technology in emerging economies.
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