The Swimmers is a furistic fable about how the power of storytelling can be turned into propaganda by those who wish to impose their will on others.
It’s messy and, at times, hard to follow. But it’s also lyrical and beautiful to read. Chaotically structured and constantly rambling just like the jungle the story takes place in.
There are plenty of poignant comments on the ever-increasing gap between the mega-wealthy and the poor, and how wealth will insulate the 1% from the devastating effects of climate change:
“‘The ultra-rich continued evolving their technology as if nothing that was going on was their problem. First, they had escaped into exclusive compounds; then into orbiting houses; and lastly, into the ring itself. With time, half of us had been abandoned here.’”
An an interesting point of view – that looking to past mistakes won’t help us prevent future ones. In fact, obsessing over our past weights us down and prevents us from seeing creative future solutions:
We were dooming ourselves to the same nonsensical repetition of the same nonsensical mistakes that the pre-Winter men had made. We were weighed down by things that had come to us centuries ago.
More than once while reading the novel I thought of the heated beauty and chaos of one of my favourite classic novels, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. I was, therefore, quite astonished to read in the acknowledgements that the author directly refers to Rhys’s novel!:
“I have taken my inspiration closely from the novel. Since I first read it, Wide Sargasso Sea has struck me with how closely I could relate to its description of a world in which issues of ‘equality’ and dominant culture proved that nothing as prosaic as the law could indeed make us equal, and that many other undercurrents decide these things for us.”
A recommended read for those who enjoy lyrical, beautifully written prose with opaque and complex storylines.