Third Place Books welcomes James Sturz to our Seward Park store! Sturz will be discussing his new novel, Underjungle, a lyrical tale of love and war, encompassing the marine environment, science, art, philosophy and grief—as deep and surprising as life on the seafloor, where much of this story is set. He will be joined in conversation by Thomas Kohnstamm, the author of Lake City. This event is free and open to the public.
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In Underjungle, an intelligent life form known as the yc exist in the ocean’s depths, an apex predator among most fish. Long ago, this species fractured from a single group into seven distinct tribes, each with their own dialect and cultural idiosyncrasies. Now, one tribe, the Gjala, has stumbled across a most intriguing and unusual object: a sunken corpse. As news travels across the ocean, and the other tribes converge to investigate, the consequences and questions raised will reverberate for generations to come.
Underjungle asks readers to give themselves up to another world: to step outside not just of themselves, but of their species. A broad metaphysical story of fantastical world-building from accomplished journalist and nature writer James Sturz, Underjungle is a lyrical tale of love and war, encompassing the marine environment, science, art, philosophy and grief—as deep and surprising as life on the seafloor, where much of this story is set.
Buoyed by humor and tinged with the unshakeable melancholy of loss is the existential question that forever ties the novel to our human experience: what is our purpose?
"Underjungle is poetry, fantasy, love, war, mystery and philosophy. This book will make you think about the ocean in ways you haven’t before, and that might just make you want to protect it. I’ve dived with James, and I'm pleased to see that he has created this fascinating and complex story about the ocean and our deep connection to it."
—Jean-Michel Cousteau, Ocean Futures Society
"Gorgeously weird and weirdly gorgeous. Underjungle is a mesmerizing dissection of the best and worst of us, set in an undersea world untouched by humanity, so vividly and masterfully drawn that it feels both foreign and familiar. I have never read anything quite like it. Cleverly poetic, sometimes uncomfortable, and occasionally hilarious, but ultimately an ode to the wonders of depths unexplored."
—Shelby Van Pelt, author of Remarkably Bright Creatures
"Not many of us would have the audacity to write a novel where the only human character is a corpse decomposing on the ocean floor, but in Underjungle James Sturz has met this challenge in dazzling fashion. To get a more intimate view of the world under the waves you'd probably have to become fish food yourself, so instead I recommend this profound and unclassifiable novel, a mind-expanding Aeneid of the seas."
—Ned Beauman, author of Venomous Lumpsucker and Boxer, Beetle
“Underjungle is a wondrously beautiful tale told in language that made me feel I was breathing the atmosphere of an exotic and miraculous planet. Of course, I was. But the most amazing thing is that, the whole time, I was breathing underwater.”
—Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and Beyond Words
James Sturz grew up in New York City, snorkeling in his bathtub and pretending the living room shag carpet was finger coral. Now based in Hawaii, he has covered the underwater world for The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, Outside and Men's Journal, among many publications. His fiction and journalism have been published in 18 countries and translated into nine languages. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University and is a PADI Divemaster, free diver, and Explorers Club Fellow. His first novel, Sasso, was set in the caves of Basilicata, Italy, very far from the water.
Thomas Kohnstamm is the author of the novel Lake City (Counterpoint) and Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? (Crown). He was born in Seattle and lives there with his wife and two children.
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