Mal de Mer

This novel inevitably invites comparison with Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints (1973), published in France, as the English equivalent of Raspail’s famous book.  The comparison is apt, so far as subject and politics go.  But that, really, is the end of it.  The Camp of the Saints describes the invasion of southern France by a flotilla of rusted hulks laden below the Plimsoll mark by tens of thousands of refugees from the slums of Calcutta; Sea Changes has to do with the arrival of a single Iraqi immigrant on the east coast of England.  Raspail’s novel, reflecting the scale of the imagined event, has the scope of epic poetry and a metaphorical vision that deliberately exceeds the limits of probability, while Mr. Turner’s story is an entirely plausible fictional event exaggerated only slightly for his satirical purposes.

Not a great many critics and other writers of nonfiction have navigated successfully the boundaries that demarcate the two literary forms.  Right from the start of his book, Mr. Turner laid my apprehensions to rest.  It has been a long while since I read a contemporary novel with so much pleasure, involvement, attention, anticipation, at times delight, always interest, and in many places sheer admiration, as I did this one.  Sea Changes is a promising debut, and I am confident that Derek Turner’s...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here