Winner, Goldsmiths Fiction Prize, 2020

“Unsettling and insinuating, fabulously alert to the spaces between things, Harrison is without peer as a chronicler of the fraught, unsteady state we’re in.” –Olivia Laing

Shaw had a breakdown, but he’s getting himself back together. He has a single room, a job on a decaying London barge, and an on-off affair with a doctor’s daughter called Victoria, who claims to have seen her first corpse at age fourteen.

It’s not ideal, but it’s a life. Or it would be if Shaw hadn’t got himself involved in a conspiracy theory that, on dark nights by the river, seems less and less theoretical . . .

Meanwhile, Victoria’s up in the Midlands, renovating her dead mother’s house, trying to make new friends. But what, exactly, happened to her mother? Why has the local waitress disappeared into a shallow pool in a field behind the house? And why is the town so obsessed with that old Victorian morality, The Water Babies?

As Shaw and Victoria struggle to maintain their relationship, and their denial of the mysterious new forces at work in the shadows around them, the sunken lands are rising up again.

“Other experimental novels unstitch language, character and form, but Harrison unstitches the reader herself.” —Frances Wilson, New Statesman

“beneath this veneer of normality lurks one of the strangest and most unsettling novels of the year … If fiction’s greatest achievement is in affecting the way the reader sees the world, then Harrison’s spare and beautiful prose has conjured up here a feeling of almost permanent dislocation from the routines of everyday life. Even when the book has been closed, it’s a feeling that is incredibly hard to shake off.” –Richard Strachan, The Herald

“its resonances with our world are somehow simultaneously obvious and obscure but they hit with an emotional immediacy that few writers can match …  A particularly humdrum uncanny is evoked ” –the Quietus

“Harrison is a law unto himself, and The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again is a novel so good all the usual reviewerish superlatives barely seem superlative enough.” –Adam Roberts

“The gaps between the characters are of more interest to Harrison than their skulking intimacies, and things seen from the corner of the eye matter more than those observed directly. The result is a disconcerting portrait of a Britain plagued by suspicion and conspiracy theories.” –Henry Hitchings, Spectator


“In The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, we witness the triumphant flowering of Harrison’s late style, in which the point is not the story but the accretion of circumstance. If Harrison’s 12th novel is “about” anything, it is about the crisis — not just Shaw’s but our own, our nation’s, the planet’s, a state of brokenness and wrong-thinking that seems to preclude the idea of acting, or even of wanting.”  –Nina Allan, LA Review of Books

“a sinister version of modern Britain, broke, divided and paranoid … M John Harrison, who has spent a career puncturing the expectations and pretensions of the science fiction genre, outdoes himself here” –Simon Ings, The Times

“uncanny and exquisite”Morning Star

“Like reading Thomas Pynchon underwater … a book of alienation, atmosphere, half-glimpsed revelation …”Daily Mail

“Harrison is … the poet laureate of unhappy people having sex in ugly clothes.” –Savage Beast Podcast

“Did not finish … Grim and unremittingly depressing setting, unlikable characters” —SFF World

Available in hardback, trade paperback & ebook, at your trusted outlets. Public appearances are cancelled or postponed for the obvious reason; charmingly chaotic e-events–online interviews, twitter chats & Zoom apearances–may or may not take their place–look out for details on Twitter @mjohnharrison. A magnificent early review from Olivia Laing in the Guardian, here and a complex personal response to some of the site-specific elements by Andrew Key. Interviews with: Leo Robson at the New Statesman; Brendan Byrne for Big Echo; and with Mariana Enriquez at FILBA 2020. For more information, or to suggest events, reviews, interviews, get in touch with Will O’Mullane at Gollancz and/or Zoe Turner at Comma Press.

“Simply one of the best writers of fiction currently at work in English.” –Robert Macfarlane

Author photo by Cath Phillips, 2012