Cove by Cynan Jones

For a novel which is just over 100 pages long, this does an incredible amount.

It’s about a man who is adrift at sea in a kayak, unable to remember who he is after being struck by lightning. He has a vague impression of someone waiting for him on the shore, but has no idea who that might be or why he is out at sea in the first place.

The prose is stripped back, and yet is still moving and powerful and beautiful. It is written in brief observations, thoughts which appear and disappear, memories which almost come, and then fade away again. I don’t really know how to talk about this book, other than to say it moved me in a way that I can’t explain, and is unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

It is very limited in its scope, with only one character, one very small location – the inside of the kayak (although, of course, in other ways the setting is endlessly large) – and yet, it seems to contain all life. It’s not sweeping or grandiose, it just quietly, subtly explores its themes. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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