ContemporaryThe Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka


The most stunning surprise of a book that we’ve read in ages. Slim in size and both beautifully written and gorgeously crafted, this novel, about a group of swimmers at a local pool, is so much more than we can really do justice to. But try we will.

The swimmers visit their pool for different reasons and at different times. We learn why they’re there; what they’re swimming to and what they’re swimming from. When a crack at the bottom of the pool appears it sends huge ruptures, both literal and metaphorical through the group. Should they stay or should they go, they wonder as they consider what their pool really means to them.

The main protagonist is Alice, who is suffering from dementia and truly, this is the most powerful novel we’ve read focusing on memory and ultimately, the loss of it — or parts of it, at least — for as far back as we ourselves can recall. 
The latter part of the story is told away from the pool itself, from the perspective of an omniscient narrator, from the care home where Alice finds herself. We adored this chunk of the novel; raw, heartbreaking and utterly transformative, this felt so real it is hard to believe that it isn’t. But of course, as with the best stories, we know that just because a work is fiction doesn’t mean it isn’t real. When you read this one — and you MUST — we know you’ll see what we mean C &S

Order your copy here.

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