The Genius of the Sea

Amos’s story, which eventually takes over the novel, is reminiscent of Isak Dinesen, cadenced and archetypal . . . a queer, mesmerizing hybrid of a book . . . the novel is a notable, highly original work. Publisher’s Weekly

Who is Amos Radcliff?

According to Amos Radcliff’s disability claim, he lost a let in an accident involving a beer barrel, but when social worker Daniel arrives to investigate he meets with a shock. To begin with, Amos is living in Daniel’s childhood home, a council flat still full of his dead mother’s possessions, and Amos’s leg is still very much attached.

From this introduction, a strange relationship develops between the two men. Daniel finds himself drawn back to the flat again and again to hear Amos’s hypnotic seafaring stories and to relive his own memories of his troubled relationships with his mother, his best friend, and his beloved wife Sally. Then comes Amos’s final, shattering story . . .

The novel’s modern premise—the truthfulness of the unreliable narrator—should not blind us to its classic message: that story-telling is a rejuvenating form, containing magic and mystery and sometimes, in the midst of pain, joy. Naeem Murr has given us a rich yet delicate tale, an ancient rime that holds us to the final page. Glasgow Sunday Herald

Clever and intense, Murr’s writing captures the extraordinary power of human ties. Time Out

Part Henry James, part Joseph Conrad, The Genius of the Sea is a brilliant tale within a tale . . . the reader will be enthralled by this captivating story of psychological drama and unintended treachery. Booksense

In Naeem Murr’s The Genius of the Sea, the mysterious Amos recounts outlandish voyages of adventure, but are they true? Is he a real man, a con artist, a ghost? The story begins in an ordinary British living room, where 11-year-old Daniel plays games about monsters with a school friend, half of his mind on his mother, who is crying in the kitchen. In this emotionally complex book, Murr plays with time frames, examining life as a series of possibilities, using stories within stories to examine our perceptions of reality. Best of the Summer Reading, Scotland on Sunday

This is a beautifully wrought, carefully constructed, and totally absorbing novel about selfhood, our need to deal with our pasts and our guilt, and the role of imagination in making life bearable. Powerful, stunning, and ultimately hopeful, this novel is a thought-provoking can’t-put-it-downer.

Naeem Murr has a hideously beautiful imagination and a wholly original talent. Mary Gaitskill, author of Veronica 

Both thickly textured and pleasingly straight-forward, this wonderful story is filled with keenly observed insights and intelligence. Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge