J.M . Ledgard's second novel is strange and disturbing, perhaps even more so than his first, which I feel confident saying contained the most harrowing giraffe slaughter sequence of modern English literature. This is a strange book from a strange man; I've met him and can confirm it, and I mean that in the best possible way. It is also dark and, one might argue, deeply pessimistic in terms of the future it suggests for humankind.
SUBMERGENCE is an account of James, a kidnapped British spy, and the slow disintegration of his will and consciousness among his jihadist captors in Somalia, coupled with the descent into the depths of the oceans on the part of Danielle, a marine biomathematician - of course she's a marine biomathematician; Ledgard's last protagonist was a giraffe haemodynamicist - where chemosynthetic life forms teem and luminesce in high-temperature thermal flows heated by the earth's magma.
Somewhere in there, in flashbacks, like particles in a chaotic system, this pair randomly bounced into one another in a French hotel on a raging Atlantic, made love on a bathroom sink, and decided, despite it being it an apparent mathematical impossible, that they had fallen in love. It was fleeting, as all things are. SUBMERGENCE scrapes topics that are difficult to write about without seeming precious, including djinns, Africa, and, without quite saying so, a sense of a dormant superconsciousness that lies below, precedes and outlasts all human activity and ritual - not to mention a civilization, one gets the sense, that the author sees as increasingly tenuous.
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