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November, 1836. A fierce gale beaches an American sail ship off the English coast, injuring an African slave below decks and eventually disgorging 300 head of cattle and rowdy American sailors into a hardscrabble fishing village. The same storm drives into port a steamer, bearing one Aymer Smith, the well-intentioned but foolish prig who will deprive the town of its livelihood, free the African slave, and set into motion a whole series of unforeseeable, tragicomic events.

One of the most seductive and surprising novelists at work today, Jim Crace once again creates a richly strange and believable world; one uncannily familiar to our own.

Signals of distress

  • jim crace
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