Doggerland

Ben Smith

‘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.

Reviews of Doggerland

  • ‘Ben Smith has created a vision of the future in which the world ends with neither a bang nor a whimper but just rusts gradually into the sea. I found it both terrifying and hugely enjoyable, as well as tremendously moving. Ben Smith’s writing is incredibly precise; working with a restricted palette of steel greys and flaking blues, he paints the boundaried seascape with vivid detail. This is a story about men and fathers, the faint consolation of routine, and the undying hope of finding out what lies beyond the horizon. I absolutely loved it’ Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13

    ‘There’s a patience and rhythm deep in the prose – this is going to make a mark’ Cynan Jones, author of The Dig

    ‘Trawled up from a new-old ocean, Doggerland reveals a drowned world, inundated by the past, haunted by the future. In terse, brilliant prose, Ben Smith evokes a terrible, stripped-down state. His book has all the urgent power of film – it might as well be set in outer space. Quietly thrilling, deeply strange and incredibly imaginative, it’s a visceral, all-too believable act of retrieval, a gripping vision of what lies ahead of us’ Philip Hoare, author of RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR

    ‘Imagine, if you can, that Samuel Beckett, William Golding and J.G. Ballard got together to write a novel. It would be something like Doggerland – a melancholy yet riveting vision of isolation and endurance at the end of days. It heralds the arrival of a major talent’ Gregory Norminton, author of The Devil’s Highway

    ‘Doggerland is a novel that holds its nerve, unflinchingly, combining minimalism with intense, lyrical flourishes. An astonishing, prophetic debut which should be read by everyone’ Luke Kennard, author of The Transition

    ‘I was gripped from beginning to end. Every page exudes rust and salt, hope and love … it is the story of our times’ Nicholas Crane, author of The Making of the British Landscape

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