**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.
‘Blackburn’s book is startling, funny and often very moving’ New Statesman
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.
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.
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.
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.
Breathtaking… [a] splendidly rich book… I admire the intelligence, the appetite for discovery and the shining imagination that have gone into [Time Song].