Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374183158, 336pp.
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Long-listed for the NBCC's John Leonard Prize
The gripping story of a dramatic eighteenth-century voyage of discovery
In her wildly inventive debut novel, Naomi J. Williams reimagines the historical Laperouse expedition, a voyage of exploration that left Brest in 1785 with two frigates, more than two hundred men, and overblown Enlightenment ideals and expectations, in a brave attempt to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.
Deeply grounded in historical fact but refracted through a powerful imagination, "Landfalls" follows the exploits and heartbreaks not only of the men on the ships but also of the people affected by the voyage-indigenous people and other Europeans the explorers encountered, loved ones left waiting at home, and those who survived and remembered the expedition later. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and is set in a different part of the world, ranging from London to Tenerife, from Alaska to remote South Pacific islands to Siberia, and eventually back to France. The result is a beautifully written and absorbing tale of the high seas, scientific exploration, human tragedy, and the world on the cusp of the modern era.
By turns elegiac, profound, and comic, "Landfalls" reinvents the maritime adventure novel for the twenty-first century.