By Ben Smith
Published Apr 2019
Doggerland is brilliantly inventive, beautifully-crafted and superbly gripping debut novel about loneliness and hope, nature and survival – set on an off-shore windfarm in the not-so-distant future.
‘His father’s breath had been loud in the small room. It had smelled smoky, or maybe more like dust. ‘I’ll get out,’ he’d said. ‘I’ll come back for you, ok?’ The boy remembered that; had always remembered it. And, for a time, he’d believed it too.’
In the North Sea, far from what remains of the coastline, a wind farm stretches for thousands of acres.
The Boy, who is no longer really a boy, and the Old Man, whose age is unguessable, are charged with its maintenance. They carry out their never-ending work as the waves roll, dragging strange shoals of flotsam through the turbine fields. Land is only a memory.
So too is the Boy’s father, who worked on the turbines before him, and disappeared.
The Boy has been sent by the Company to take his place, but the question of where he went and why is one for which the Old Man will give no answer.
As the Old Man dredges the sea for lost things, the Boy sifts for the truth of his missing father. Until one day, from the limitless water, a plan for escape emerges…
Doggerland is a haunting and beautifully compelling story of loneliness and hope, nature and survival.
Praise for Doggerland:
It is an unremittingly wet book, damp and cold and rusted, blasted by waves and tempests, but also warm, generous and often genuinely moving. It is a debut of considerable force, emotional weight and technical acumen that weaves its own impressive course.
A haunting story.
Erica Wagner, New Statesman
Doggerland is an example of how intense and deeply focused the novel can be when examining a closed universe… It is a haunting story and could break the prejudice against speculative fiction often reflected in prize lists.
Alan Warner, Guardian