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‘Brilliantly observed, Jason Garner’s Swimming in the Red Sea is a rare treat. Although primarily a novel, this book tells us more than many of the non-fiction teaching books currently available. Garner’s eye for detail, and compassion for his characters becomes apparent in the first few pages, and is maintained throughout the whole book. There are none of the platitudes that so often plague this genre, and we see a real God in active relationship with real people. Swimming in the Red Sea is a challenge and a delight, full of poignant comment and Godly wisdom; I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about being a disciple of Christ.’

Andrew Chamberlain, author of Urban Angel

‘Skilfully observed and genuinely gripping. In a challenging read, Jason Garner relates tales of ordinary people in a painful yet powerful novel, winding through love and loss, deceit and intrigue and personal fulfilment. The characters are so complete that they could be personally known to any of us, yet so fragile that we may be reluctant to recognise their familiarity.’

Cameron Stout, Big Brother 2003

 

What feelings are you left with when you’ve finished reading the latest bestseller?

If I’m being honest I have to say that I often feel quite depressed. I might have enjoyed the story and the writing style but, more often than not, I find that the message many fictional books convey is ultimately pessimistic – bittersweet, perhaps, but without any lasting hope.

One of the first things I was told when I started writing stories in school was that I should never conclude with: “He woke up and it had all been a dream.” My teachers said that everybody finished stories like that because it was an easy way to tie up the loose ends.

The apparent futility of our existence seems to have become a trite convention in writing much like: “He woke up and it had all been a dream.” To my mind, a pessimistic ending is often seen as an acceptable means of tying up the loose ends in a way that will please the critics by tapping into what is perceived to be people’s jaded outlook on life.

Obviously, literary fiction is a reflection of reality. If it were not, nobody would empathise with it and nobody would buy it. So if novels quite often end on a pessimistic note it must be because life does too.

As I thought it over I started wondering, why should I have to accept this? True, life is sometimes unbearably tough and contains any number of painful “loose ends” – even for those who have a relatively easy ride, but that doesn’t mean to say that it is ultimately meaningless.

The reality which I live in – and which is no less real than anyone else’s reality – contains a hope that is ever present and that is far greater, and far more powerful, than even the bleakest low point. And this hope that I have is available to anybody who wants to reach out and make it their own.

The main reason I decided to write Swimming in the Red Sea is because I felt current literary trends simply do not reflect what I know in my heart to be true of life, which is this: whatever temporary sadness and pain we may face, there is a much stronger hope and a lasting joy, available to all and always present through the good times and the bad. By writing, I simply want to share the little that I know about it with other people.

Jason Garner
July 2004

The publishing of Swimming in the Red Sea has been facilitated through consultancy services provided by