By J.M. Ledgard

Submergence is a novel by the writer J.M. Ledgard. In this site we want to add a few thoughts and images which circled around the book as it was being written – and afterwards. We hope you enjoy.


Amazon US   Amazon UK


"The best novel I have read all year. Ledgard shows us the emergency lighting of our internal universe, and the alien vastness of the outer one. I started Submergence one afternoon, cut short a social event that evening to keep reading, stepped off a train at midnight with twenty pages left, and stood under a light on the platform to finish them."  New York Magazine July 8th Kathryn Schulz

"Every once in a while, a critic will be mesmerized by a book that stands out from — even wipes the floor with — all other books that have come his way of late. J.M. Ledgard’s “Submergence” is that kind of book." Minneapolis Star Tribune April 11th Malcom Forbes

"The influence of the great German original WG Sebald breathes through the book, yet this is to Ledgard’s advantage. There is no disputing that Ledgard is an elegant, determinedly intellectual and disciplined writer, yet there is also immense humanity in this novel, which deserves to be one of the strongest challengers for this year’s Man Booker Prize. Fiction at its finest recognises no boundaries, and 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 Jul 16th Eileen Battersby

"At once precise and flexible, Submergence is a hard-edged, ultracontemporary work about people a reader cares for, apart and together, through extraordinarily precarious conditions. Ledgard gives glimpses of very strange life indeed. Out of this, acute understandings emerge." The New York Times Jun 7th Floyd Skloot

"Submergence is writing of awesome power. In a profound meditation on cruelty, pity, belief, art, science, hope, love and mortality, the novel's truths settle in your consciousness, perhaps never to be forgotten" The Independent June 9th Toby Litt

"J.M. Ledgard's Submergence wonderfully superimposes two seemingly irreconcilable worlds. There is much about this strange book that is hard to understand, which makes it all the more worthy of exploration." Wall Street Journal May 24th Sam Sacks

More reviews

  • About

    Submergence was written in various countries in Africa. Sections were scribbled into small, clothbound notebooks while the author waited to interview politicians and civil servants for his job as a political and war correspondent. An early draft was completed during a writing fellowship in Hobart. The final draft was finished in Mogadishu.

    The aim of Submergence was, in a small way, to alter the reader’s perspective of the planet we inhabit. The aim was planetary writing.

    "In a room with no windows on the eastern coast of Africa, an Englishman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Posing as a water engineer to spy on al-Qaeda activity in the area, he now faces extreme privation, mock executions and forced marches through arid Somali badlands. Thousands of miles away on the Greenland Sea, Danielle Flinders, a biomathematician, prepares for a dive to the ocean floor to determine the extent and forms of life in the deep. Both are drawn back, in their thoughts, to the Christmas of the previous year, and to a French hotel on the Atlantic coast, where a chance encounter on the beach led to an intense and enduring romance, now stretching across continents. For James, a descendant of Thomas More, his mind escapes to utopias, and fragments of his life and learning before his incarceration, now haunting him. Danny is drawn back to mythical and scientific origins and to the ocean: immense and otherworldly, a comfort and a threat. Submergence is a love story, a meditation on mortality, and a vivid portrayal of man’s place on Earth. With it J.M. Ledgard proves himself a writer of large horizons and vast ambition."