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Doggerland

By: Ben Smith
Narrated by: Peter Noble
Length: 6 hrs and 55 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Summary

Doggerland is a superbly gripping debut novel about loneliness and hope, nature and survival - set on an offshore 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. He had knotted and unknotted a strap on the bag he was holding - he must have been leaving to go out to the farm that day. "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, scoured by wind and salt, 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 his companion 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.... 

This beautifully crafted novel about loneliness and hope, nature and survival, is as haunting as it is compelling - a very special debut indeed.

©2019 Ben Smith (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"In 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)

"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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Atmospheric and lonely

Post apocalypse is my favourite genre but I'm bored to death of zombies, EMPs, plagues, nukes and aliens. I feel like this is the beginning of the climate apocalypse era and Ben Smith has set the bar high.

Doggerland is short, but this means the story doesn't drag on or lose its impact. It's not fast paced, but there's no filler either - it's lean and atmospheric.

The Wall is another great environmental post-apoc story that was released this year - highly recommend reading that one first, then this.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Something different - reminded me of Pinter

Well performed and a change to many of my recent reads and listens.

Had the feel of Pinter, but far gentler.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Worth it, even if it seems like an expanse of grey

The subject matter of this novel is bleak. But its heart is hopeful. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful