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Publisher's Summary

Shaw had a breakdown, but he's getting himself back together. He has a single room, a job on a decaying London barge and an on-off affair with a doctor's daughter called Victoria, who claims to have seen her first corpse at age 13.

It's not ideal, but it's a life. Or it would be if Shaw hadn't got himself involved in a conspiracy theory that, on dark nights by the river, seems less and less theoretical....

Meanwhile, Victoria is up in the Midlands, renovating her dead mother's house, trying to make new friends. But what, exactly, happened to her mother? Why has the local waitress disappeared into a shallow pool in a field behind the house? And why is the town so obsessed with that old Victorian morality tale The Water Babies?   

As Shaw and Victoria struggle to maintain their relationship, the sunken lands are rising up again, unnoticed in the shadows around them.

©2020 M. John Harrison (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

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What listeners say about The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again

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Exquisite gem

I had no expectations for this book, other than someone whose opinion I respected recommended. I thought I was getting science fiction or fantasy based on the recommendation. But what I found was a delicate, subtle, beautifully balanced story about longing and belonging and dissociation. And the prevalence of water. Graceful, elegiac, thank you.

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  • John
  • 01-11-2020

A strange and curious vision


I am a fan of 'Climbers' by Harrison. Acute obsevations and the vivid characters and great landscape writing. It was starkly honest and it had me re-reading it quite soon after I finished. This novel is also beautiful, and thoughtful. It is grounded in the contemporary world with forays into the unknown. Is the unexplained weirdness real to the characters? An insanity, A crisis, perhaps. A sort of dual hallucination that entwines them, I have no answer, but I liked thinking about it..

As a rule I prefer books to ask questions rather than simply answer them. And so to try and answer another reviewer's (Jerold C's) question (Why is nothing resolved?) I would say because confusion is the human condition and to engage with another's confusion is to empathise. Curiosity is more active than observation.

Just my feeling.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jerold C
  • 13-08-2020

well written bollocks

The prose is great. The characters well defined. The hints of the strange engage and provide bait for narrative greed. But ultimately it's a story about nothing, using the tropes of horror and fantastic fiction. Lovely passages lead nowhere and the aimless characters' responses to the 'weird'start to really get on your nerves once you realise that nothing will be resolved. And that's early on in the text. I think this intentional. But why?

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  • Alice May
  • 14-12-2020

Unsettling, unearthly, undeniably brilliant

Set in contemporary Brexit Britain but moored in the drab ambience of the early 80s, this follows two people - Shaw and Victoria - whose fish-out-of-water existences are... just that.
I find it hard to believe I haven’t heard of M John Harrison before, unless it’s because I’ve been readier to dismiss potential ‘genre’ writers than I thought.
MJH is a master of language and of prose style. I’m in awe of the understated yet mesmeric quality of his writing, and am going to find another of his to read / listen to straightaway. On which note, all credit to Max Dowler, whose narration was pitch perfect.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kazgriki
  • 15-02-2021

Quirky, rather obtuse tale

I loved the lexically rich narrative of this story but found the main characters and their situations rather depressing. The menacing undercurrents maintained a certain suspense but the underlying story I found incomprehensible and therefore rather unsatisfactory.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-2021

Story goes nowhere

I really did not like this book and will return it after 7 hours of listening because I can’t bear another second of this boring, nonsensical book. I bought it because of the rave reviews and the Goldsmiths prize but am highly disappointed in it. The story goes nowhere. It is utterly amazing how little this book makes sense. Apologies to the writer and yeah the prose is good, but I just feel like I’ve listened to some random thoughts attached together to make a semblance of a book. I understand why some may like it; it is definitely not my cup of tea.

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  • Andy
  • 26-11-2020

Drivel from start to finish

I bought this book based on a review which was glowing and effusive with regard to the work. The story is dreary, over-detailed descriptively and lacking cohesion, truly the worst book I have either read or listened to. I know this sounds harsh, but I wouldn't wish anyone else to be in any doubt. 10 hours I will not regain.
I apologise if the author ever reads this comment, perhaps your editor should have been more competent.

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