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About the book
  • Published: 7 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473546707
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

Time Song

Searching for Doggerland




A journey told through stories and songs into Doggerland, the ancient region that once joined the east coast of England to Holland

**SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT GOLDEN BEER BOOK PRIZE 2019**

Julia Blackburn has always collected things that hold stories about the past, especially the very distant past: mammoth bones, little shells that happen to be two million years old, a flint shaped as a weapon long ago. Time Song brings many such stories together as it tells of the creation, the existence and the loss of a country now called Doggerland, a huge and fertile area that once connected the entire east coast of England with mainland Europe, until it was finally submerged by rising sea levels around 5000 BC.

Blackburn mixes fragments from her own life with a series of eighteen ‘songs’ and all sorts of stories about the places and the people she meets in her quest to get closer to an understanding of Doggerland. She sees the footprints of early humans fossilised in the soft mud of an estuary alongside the scattered pockmarks made by rain falling eight thousand years ago. She visits a cave where the remnants of a Neanderthal meal have turned to stone. In Denmark she sits beside Tollund Man who seems to be about to wake from a dream, even though he has lain in a peat bog since the start of the Iron Age.

Time Song reveals yet again, that Julia Blackburn is one of the most original writers in Britain, with each of its pages bringing a surprise, an epiphany, a phrase of such beauty and simple profundity you can only gasp.

  • Pub date: 7 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473546707
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

About the Author

Julia Blackburn

Julia Blackburn has written six books of non-fiction, a family memoir, The Three of Us, which won the 2009 J.R. Ackerley Award, and two novels, The Book of Colour and The Leper’s Companions, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She lives in Suffolk and Italy.

Also by Julia Blackburn

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Praise for Time Song

“A poetic and fascinating exploration of life on Doggerland… This is one of the only books I’ve ever read that has made me feel better about climate change.”

Olivia Laing *Book of the Week*, Guardian

“Rarely have I read a book in which there is such an entrancingly liquid and easy drift between the metaphorical and the actual… This is not science or history (there are enough books like that) but understanding – so that in [Blackburn’s] hands the ancient Doggerland landscape of distant summers becomes filled again… This book is a wonder.”

Adam Nicolson, Spectator

“A magical, mesmerising book – a book which makes you feel giddy at the thought of the deep gulf of history hidden just beneath your feet.”

Roger Cox, Scotsman

“Time Song is not a straightforward book about Doggerland. It is much more interesting than that… Time Song is richly peopled, Blackburn’s unflagging curiosity and sharp eye bringing a diverse cast of characters vividly to life. She sifts their stories not just for information, but for meaning; she’s conjuring for us not merely the facts of Doggerland, but the weight of its omission from our history books, our collective memory and our imaginations.”

Melissa Harrison, Financial Times

“Breathtaking… [a] splendidly rich book… I admire the intelligence, the appetite for discovery and the shining imagination that have gone into [Time Song].”

Gillian Tindall, Literary Review

“One of my favourite writers in the whole world is Julia Blackburn and she has produced yet another uncategorisable masterpiece which is Time Song... [Blackburn] is one of our great original writers... [Time Song] is a beautiful, beautiful book.”

John Mitchinson, Backlisted Podcast

“There are many beauties to be found in Blackburn’s writing, particularly when she turns an observant eye on landscapes and the evidence they provide of the prehistoric peoples who inhabited them.”

Nick Rennison, The Times

“[Julia Blackburn] has an inimitable approach to non-fiction… down-to-earth – though always thought provoking… begging to be set to music.”

Peter Carty, iNews

“There is something quite magical about this book. It is full of surprises, of twists and turns, changes of tone and focus. Blackburn casually compresses vast sweeps of geological time into a paragraph… She has a deceptively simple way of writing, almost childlike, never embellished, but behind it lies an artfulness that once sensed, is beautiful beyond words… absolutely delightful.”

Sue Brooks, Caught by the River *Book of the Month*

“Julia Blackburn is an impossible-to-categorise writer, curious in every sense… and she has a genius for the imaginative leap, for thinking her way into the past.”

Kate Hubbard, Oldie

“[Time Song] is time travel… wonderful.”

Rachel Cooke, Observer

“It is in her descriptions of the sea and her imaginings of the land it submerged that Ms Blackburn's book is most arresting… the combination of wry observations and personal reflections makes Time Song gripping.”

Economist

“Time Song is fiendishly clever… Archaeologists have long known how past and present co-exist. None, however, has been able to express it so convincingly.”

Mike Pitts, British Archaeology

“An engaging and informative link to deep history.”

New Statesman

“A deeply consoling book.”

Stephanie Cross, The Lady, *Book of the Week*

“Dreamy, poetic, meditative, wildly discursive and intensely personal… [Blackburn] has a witchy way of ascribing human personality to other species, and even inanimate objects… Provocative and poetic.”

Lewis Jones, Daily Telegraph

“Majestic… The genius of Time Song is that the diverse form of the book subtly suggests that narratives may not be continuous… Blackburn is a ruthless chronicler of bathos…[her] book on the past is above all a response to the urgent problems of the present.”

Nancy Campbell, Times Literary Supplement


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