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The Swimmer by Roma Tearne

The Swimmer

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One of the 20 Longlisted titles for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011.

October 2010 Book of the Month.

A tale of romance and Sri Lankan politics from the author of Brixton Beach. It is rather pessimistic and tragic and yet despite that is richly satisfying. Almost everything imaginable happens to or has happened to the few characters. There's the loss of a parent, a hatred of siblings, an illicit affair, bigotry, insanity, hopeless love, political upheaval, suicide, and more, all portrayed in a light, simplistic style. In short, it's a gripping, captivating novel about love, loss and what home really means.

Comparison: Rani Manicka, Tash Aw, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

If you like Roma Tearne you might also like to read books by Andrea Levy, Margaret Forster and Sadie Jones.


The Swimmer by Roma Tearne

Forty-three year old Ria is used to being alone. As a child, her life changed forever with the death of her beloved father and since then, she has struggled to find love.That is, until she discovers the swimmer. Ben is a young illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka who has arrived in Norfolk via Moscow. Awaiting a decision from the Home Office on his asylum application, he is discovered by Ria as he takes a daily swim in the river close to her house. He is twenty years her junior and theirs is an unconventional but deeply moving romance, defying both boundaries and cultures - and the xenophobic residents of Orford. That is, until tragedy occurs.


'A tender, unconventional love story unfolds, until tragedy intervenes!Tearne's descriptions of the wide Suffolk skies are breathtaking; she has a wonderful ability to create atmosphere'
The Times

'Broodingly atmospheric!Roma Tearne is one of those writers who manage to interweave the political and personal to tremendous effect!Tearne captures a shifting social and political landscape and questions notions of home and homeland![she] draws her characters with an artist's precision! her extraordinary book offers a rare insight into the subtle and dramatic ways we are shaped by conflict, and how our personal lives can be overtaken by political forces'

'Topical themes such as the war on terror and the treatment of asylum seekers are cleverly presented against a background of love, grief and guilt; all this is drawn together by a theme of belonging!this is beautifully atmospheric writing, deeply moving and thought-provoking'
Books Quarterly (Waterstones)

'A lyrical tale of love and loss'
Country and Town House

'[A] moving tale of forbidden love'

About the Author

Roma Tearne

Roma Tearne is a Sri Lankan born novelist and film maker living in the UK. She left Sri Lanka with her family, at the start of the civil unrest during the 1960s. She trained as a painter & filmmaker at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford and then was Leverhulme artist in residence at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Subsequently she was awarded an AHRC Fellowship and worked for three years in museums around Europe on a project accessing narrative within the collections.

She has written six novels. Her fifth, The Road To Urbino was published by Little Brown in June 2012 to coincide with the premier of her film of that name at the National Gallery in London. She has been short-listed for the Costa, the Kirimaya & LA Times book prize and long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2011 and, in 2012, the Asian Man Booker. Her sixth novel, The Last Pier, will be out in April 2015 from Hesperus Press.

Author photo © Alistair Tearne

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd September 2010


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HarperPress an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


400 pages


Literary Fiction
Books of the Month
Family Drama
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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