Leaving the Sea

Ben Marcus

Published: 5 February 2015
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 288 pages
ISBN: 9781847086365


A bold new short story collection from one of the most exhilarating and innovative writers of our time. The stories in Leaving the Sea take place in a world which is a distortion of our own, where strange illnesses strike at random and where people disappear without a trace. Ben Marcus has created a labyrinth populated by disturbed, weary men; from the frustrated creative writing teacher to the advocate of self-inhumation; from Paul, whose return home leads him further into his isolation, or Mather, whose child is sick, to an unnamed narrator who spends his lonely evenings calculating the probabilities of his mother's imminent demise. Dark, funny and utterly unique, Leaving the Sea showcases a writer at the height of his powers.

About the author

Image of Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus is the author of The Age of Wire and String, Notable American Women, The Flame Alphabet and Leaving the Sea. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Harper's and the Paris Review. Marcus has received a Whiting Writers' Award, a Berlin Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is on the faculty at Columbia University in New York. More about the author


‘[Leaving the Sea] is funny but there's always something around the next corner to make you catch your breath. Always original, and frequently surprising, these stories are the fruits of a fertile and unique imagination’



‘[It has] plenty of the chair-gripping alienation that marks his previous books, but there's a greater emotional complexity. ... Thoroughly and perversely entertaining’ Jim Krusoe

‘[It has] plenty of the chair-gripping alienation that marks his previous books, but there's a greater emotional complexity. ... Thoroughly and perversely entertaining’ Jim Krusoe

Leaving the Sea finds Marcus exhibiting the full scope of his stylistic range... the pieces' stylistic disparities cut against each other in a harsh, dissonant beauty’

‘A typically mind-expanding collection from America's most fascinating experimentalist, full of strange new insights and brilliantly dislocated language’ Tim Martin

‘An exquisite sense of the unexpected’

‘Ben Marcus is one of the most stunningly original and profoundly unsettling writers of his generation’ Stuart Kelly

‘Ben Marcus's wonderfully various short-story collection left me hungrily awaiting his next offering’ Josh Cohen

‘By turns entertaining, hilarious, puzzling, sweet and sad’

‘Darkly humorous and linguistically adventurous’ Rebecca Rose

‘Exhilarating... Marcus presents a deeper range of identification for the reader, more emotional complexity, but still plenty of the chair-gripping alienation that marked his previous books... between the first and the last [stories] is a world of unspoken rules, eerie calm and white noise... Thoroughly and perversely entertaining’

‘He is marvellous on the level of the sentence and in his depiction of flawed human logic. Marcus is at his best when this poetic instinct for language converges with his steady and sharp sense of plotting’

‘He retains an edge and a strangeness that sets him apart. The older stories in the collection, closer in spirit to his debut, are frequently baffling but surprisingly moreish’ John Self ‘Book of the year’

‘Intriguing... [full of] deft, dark humour’ Claire Lowden

‘Marcus is one of the most stunningly original and profoundly unsettling writers of his generation. He deals with strong emotional material in a unique and experimental way’ Stuart Kelly

‘Marcus's vision is a distinctive one and his ability to twist sentences into bizarre and wonderful shapes - along with his unsettlingly persuasive sense of absurdity - gives these stories a strange power’ Tim Groenland

‘Oblique, inventive, philosophical, and rarely without Marcus's warped sense of humour’

‘One of the most innovative writers of the concise form around... It's an absorbing collection, and marks out the author as an eclectic and valuable talent’

‘One of the most interesting books I've read this year’ John Self

‘Relentlessly sardonic, cynical and ambitiously experimental in style... [He forms] sentence after sentence with scouring insight and linguistic force... [You will] want to tell everyone you know to read Ben Marcus’ Randy Boyagoda

‘Scintillating... Ben Marcus is a genius. This collection of short stories is utterly gripping’ Readers’ 10 Best Books of the Year

‘The collection is masterful: raging yet considered’ Totally Dublin

‘The prose is lethal, dissecting, surprising, oblique... This is writing that pushes to the edge’ Galen O’Halen

‘The way Marcus ekes out the facts and emotions is exquisite. [He] writes with rare economy. He's a master’ William Leith

‘The world looks different once you put [this book] down - testament to the infective power of its vision’

‘The writing is so sharp, the world seems made afresh with every story’ Emma Brockes

‘This new collection of stories by Ben Marcus is brilliant, astute and interestingly surrealistic’

‘What makes these new stories compelling is the humanity at their centre. ... [Marcus is] adept at putting darker subject matter into relief with bright sparks of humour. [The] final scene left me sucker-punched’ Clare Wigfall

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