Hamilton-Paterson writes about fishing, piracy, ecological crises, and is especially brilliant on the melancholy fascination of those border places where the sea and land meet and human experience seems transient.
Taking humanity’s complex relationship with the sea as its starting point, Seven-Tenths is an enthralling meditation on the sea as the physical birthplace of the human race and the emotional source of our dreams. Shifting effortlessly between the sciences and the humanities—between cartography and poetry, between ecology and philosophy—Hamilton-Paterson has created one of the most engrossing works on the sea in recent literature. The prose is never less than stunning, even as it describes exactly what happens to a human body during a burial at sea, as it sinks slowly through miles of water.
At a time of growing concern about our degradation of the oceans, this extraordinary book is an immensely relevant and compelling reminder of the power, fragility and sublime beauty of the sea.
James Hamilton-Paterson lives and works in Italy. He is the author of several novels, including Loving Monsters and Gerontius, winner of the Whitbread Best First Novel Award in 1989, a collection of essays dedicated to the lost grandeur of the sea entitled Seven-Tenths, and several non-fiction books including America’s Boy, a study of Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines. He is also the author of two books of poetry and a regular contributor to Granta.