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Journey to the End of the Whale

John David Morley

6 Reviews

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Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

Part travelogue, part literary novel, part psychological memoir from the celebrated travelwriter/novelist John David Morley.

'I was not yet grown up but I had already grasped the significance of the whale stone...It had shaped my past, it had shrouded my dead, it would form my future, it was memory and prophesy, affirmation and warning alike. An ambition was born in me to allow no one but myself to become the hero of my own life.' For Daniel Serraz, born on a ferry in the Straits of Malacca, orphaned two years later when his parents are lost at sea, the world beneath the waves holds an irresistible fascination. Raised in Geneva by his hydrophobic grandmother, his boyish imagination stirred by the local pet-shop's aquaria, Daniel free-floats with life's currents into a career in insurance and marriage to Japanese interpreter Kozue. But ominous truths are re-surfacing, bound up with the legend of his whale-hunter great-grandfather and his parents' disappearance off the Indonesian coast. When calamity scars his marriage and devastates his health, at the risk of his own survival, Daniel pursues his sea-borne destiny to the far-flung island of Lefo, where whales are still hunted by century-old methods and native superstition tells of a mythical makhluk istimewa, an 'extraordinary creature' still inhabiting the surrounding seas... Beautiful, moving, awe-inspiring and wise, this is a tale of courage and personal doom, of a man's journey of self-discovery to the edge of the world, to the brink of himself, to the truth of his origins, to the end of the whale.

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Praise for Journey to the End of the Whale

  • It is impossible to do justice in this space to the rich spiritual-thematic explorations which Morley produces from this extended visit... from these and many more images and experiences emerges a poignant kind of personal spirituality which leads David to a new understanding of his own humanity. The writing, too, is superb... There is beauty in strange places in Morley's haunting scheme. - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

  • hard to resist at least a tingle of awe when a 100-ton whale surfaces so near the village that the warm spume of its blow drifts up on to land in droplets that can be felt by the people on the shore. - OBSERVER - ADAM MARS JONES

  • Morley writes intensely beautiful prose, compelling in short bursts, and delivers a haunting elegy for an already vanished culture that will more than reward. - DAILY MAIL

  • much a travel book as a novel. Morley's evocation of place is passionate and absorbing - the exotic locations are realised as vividly as the characters - and the story has a heady tang of ancient myth and old-fashioned adventure. - THE TIMES - KATE SAUNDERS

  • the descriptions of hunting the whale are eerily gripping, and the book really takes off in these sections. And engrossing... read, Journey to the End of the Whale passes the time amiably. - IRISH EXAMINER

  • there is true beauty here too, in passages which are dream-like and philosophical by turns... The

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John David Morley

John David Morley was born in Singapore in 1948 and raised in Malaya and on Africa's Gold Coast before he went to school in England. He took his first job as a stagehand, followed by a spell teaching in Mexico. He spent three years studying in Japan, subject of his international bestseller Pictures from the Water Trade. Having made his home in Munich, the focus of Morley's life has been in Central Europe, where for twenty-five years he worked as a location manager for Japanese TV and as a journalist for publication such as The Times, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Observer and Conde Nast Traveller.