Synopses & Reviews
AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
A THRILLING EPIC TALE OF THE SEA
“We, the Drowned sets sail beyond the narrow channels of the seafaring genre and approaches Tolstoy in its evocation of war’s confusion, its power to stun victors and vanquished alike . . . A gorgeous, unsparing novel.” — Washington Post
“A generational saga, a swashbuckling sailor’s tale, and the account of a small town coming into modernity—both Melville and Steinbeck might have been pleased to read it.” — New Republic
Hailed in Europe as an instant classic, We, the Drowned is the story of the port town of Marstal, Denmark, whose inhabitants sailed the world from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War. The novel tells of ships wrecked and blown up in wars, of places of terror and violence that continue to lure each generation; there are cannibals here, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, and miraculous survivals. The result is a brilliant seafaring novel, a gripping saga encompassing industrial growth, the years of expansion and exploration, the crucible of the first half of the twentieth century, and most of all, the sea.
Called “one of the most exciting authors in Nordic literature” by Henning Mankell, Carsten Jensen has worked as a literary critic and a journalist, reporting from China, Cambodia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and Afghanistan. He lives in Copenhagen and Marstal.
We, The Drowned
is "most memorable for the sheer gusto of its narrative. The author ennobles the old-fashioned art of storytelling by showing how the relating of a tale can itself foster a spirit of fellowship... We, The Drowned
is itself a monument to the way that history can be made epic through legend."
-The Wall Street Journal
"As an epic of grand design, We, The Drowned is a thumping success."
-The San Francisco Chronicle
"Powerful reading for a long winter's night... This gorgeous, unsparing novel ends during the last days of World War II with a captain struggling to bring his crew home after their ship is torpedoed. The sea is Marstal's life and Jensen's unstrained metaphor: luring the Marstallers away from home, offering uncertain passage and providing few harbors that are safe for long."
-The Washington Post
"From adventures on the storm-ravaged seas and in exotic lands, to battles in town over the shipping industry and family life, dozens of stories coalesce into an odyssey taut with action and drama and suffused with enough heart to satisfy readers who want more than the breakneck thrills of ships battling the elements."
-Publishers Weekly (starred)
"For all the brutality and suspense in the manner of Conrad, Melville, and Stevenson, Jensen's oceanic novel (already a bestseller overseas and gorgeously translated) is tenderly human . . . Jensen's resplendent saga, an epic voyage of the imagination, is mesmerizing in its unsparing drama, fascinating in its knowledge of the sea, wryly humorous, and profound in its embrace of compassion, reason, and justice."
"Expertly told . . . Jensen is a sympathetic storyteller with an eye for the absurd, with the result that if this novel descends from Moby-Dick, it also looks to The Tin Drum for inspiration . . . An elegant meditation on life, death, and the ways of the sea."
"...vast and daring... rich, powerful and rewarding... one of the more engrossing literary vorages of recent years."
-The Financial Times (UK)
"Carsten Jensen is without doubt one of the most exciting authors in Nordic literature today. I always wait with great anticipation for his books. He is, in my opinion, completely unique as a story teller."
"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."
—Joseph OConnor, author of Star of the Sea
PRAISE FOR I HAVE SEEN THE WORLD BEGIN
"In the tradition of Bruce Chatwin, social commentary and global history are fused with elegant and evocative descriptions of countryside and people. . . . Here is a writer about whom we should be hearing much more."--The Independent (London)
PRAISE FOR STAR OF THE SEA
“A brave and artful novel.”—THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“In Star of the Sea, OConnor has written not only an epic novel, but also a very important one. By deconstructing the most defining moment of Irish history, and breaking down its essential components, he has given a face and a voice to the million who died.”
“Along the way OConnor even brings in a thoroughly gripping murder mystery that is all the more affecting for the depth he gives his characters. They add up to a powerfully symbolic microcosm of the time. Bottom Line: Shining Star.”—PEOPLE
By deconstructing the most defining moment of Irish history, and breaking down its essential components, he has given a face and a voice to the million who died.
A powerfully symbolic microcosm of the time. Bottom Line: Shining Star
A brave and artful novel.
Winner of the 2014 Ojo Crítico Literary Prize
An official selection of the Festival du premier roman in Chambéry
“The novel is faithful to the facts, recreating in great detail the minutia of the story and time period, but also transcending them…Gómez Bárcena tackles the most serious topics while masterfully showing how to write a story that’s simultaneously a comedy, a tragedy, and a portrait of another culture. The style is magnificent, the narration told with originality, pulse, and rhythm. There’s little more to say: read Gómez Bárcena.” —El Cultural
“A solid, marvelously written narrative…The careful language, the ability to dig into the human psyche, the finely-tuned portraits of characters and the landscape of Peru in the earlier twentieth century, with is social upheaval, strikes, brothels, the rubber industry (the reader might be reminded of The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa), plus the story’s literary web, all wisely employed, turn The Sky over Lima into a novel to be read with supreme pleasure until it’s been completely devoured.” —Estado Crítico
“Gómez Bárcena succeeds at turning this singular moment into fiction with flying colors…The narration of this minimalist work flows and advances like an afternoon bike ride." —Buensalvaje
This international bestseller about generations of men who go to sea and the women and children they leave behind is a magnificent tale of love, war, and adventure. Cannibals, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, forbidden passions, cowards, heroes, tragedies, and survival--this book is destined to take its place among the greatest seafaring literature.
Carsten Jensens 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 worlds 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.
Hailed in Europe as an instant classic, We, the Drowned is the story of the port town of Marstal, Denmark, whose inhabitants sailed the world from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War. The novel tells of ships wrecked and blown up in wars, of places of terror and violence that continue to lure each generation; there are cannibals here, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, forbidden passions, and miraculous survivals. The result is a brilliant seafaring novel in the vein of Conrad and Melville, a gripping saga encompassing industrial growth, the years of expansion and exploration, the crucible of the first half of the twentieth century, and most of all, the sea.
"‘Powerful reading for a long winters night . . . We, the Drowned sets sail beyond the narrow channels of the seafaring genre and approaches Tolstoy in its evocation of wars confusion, its power to stun victors and vanquished alike . . . [A] gorgeous, unsparing novel."—Washington Post "A generational saga, a swashbuckling sailors tale, and the account of a small town coming into modernity—both Melville and Steinbeck might have been pleased to read it."—The New Republic "Jensen is without doubt one of the most exciting authors in Nordic literature today." —Henning Mankell
When Carsten Jensen set out by train from Denmark on a journey to the East, he expected to find lands of rich history and culture, and people
undergoing radical change at the end of the twentieth century. In this
illuminating narrative of his travels, there is this and much, much more.
Fusing social commentary and history with vibrant descriptions of people and places, Jensen brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of these venerable civilizations. He examines the reverberations of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, always attuned to the restless air of expectancy in the country, but also finds time for remote concerts of ancient Chinese music. He renders the pervasive sense of destruction, despair, and loss in Cambodia with particular sensitivity, wondering at the specter of death that still hovers over the landscape. And it is in Vietnam, with its palpable
legacy of colonialism and war, that Jensen ultimately loses himself in an extraordinary love affair.
At once compelling and richly informative, I Have Seen the World Begin is an incredible journey.
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by famine and injustice, the Star of the Sea sets sail for NewYork. On board are hundreds of refugees, some optimistic, many more desperate. Among them are a maid with a devastating secret, the bankrupt Lord Merridith, his wife and children, and a killer stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution.
This journey will see many lives end, others begin anew. Passionate loves are tenderly recalled, shirked responsibilities regretted too late, and profound relationships shockingly revealed. In this spellbinding tale of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the farther the ship sails toward the Promised Land, the more her passengers seem moored to a past that will never let them go.
As urgently contemporary as it is historical, this exciting and compassionate novel builds with the pace of a thriller to a stunning conclusion.
A retelling of a fantastical true story: two young men seduce Nobel laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez with the words of an imaginary woman and inspire one of his greatest love poems.
About the Author
JUAN GÓMEZ BÁRCENA holds degrees in literary theory, comparative literature, and history from the Complutense University of Madrid, and a degree in philosophy from Spain’s National University of Distance Education. He’s the author of numerous essay, short story, and poetry collections, for which he’s received the José Hierro Prize for Poetry and Fiction, the International CRAPE Prize for stories, and the Ramón J. Sender Prize for Narrative, among others. The Sky over Lima is his first novel. He lives in Madrid. ANDREA ROSENBERG is a translator from the Spanish and Portuguese and an editor of the Buenos Aires Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Words Without Borders, The Iowa Review, The Quarterly Conversation, Absinthe, and other publications. Her translations of David Jiménez’s Children of the Monsoon (Autumn Hill Books 2014) and Lina Meruane’s Viral Voyages: Tracing AIDS in Latin America (Palgrave Macmillan 2014) have recently made their way to bookstores. She holds an MFA in literary translation and an MA in Spanish from the University of Iowa.
Table of Contents
The Boots 3
The Thrashing Rope 56
The Voyage 118
The Disaster 197
The Breakwater 205
The Boy 301
North Star 376
The Widows 383
The Seagull Killer 436
The Sailor 469
The End of the World 567