“Underjungle,” a new novel by author and journalist James Sturz about love, loss, family and war set entirely underwater, was recently released.
The novel is about an intelligent life form known as the “yc” that exist in the ocean’s depths, an apex predator among most fish. Long ago, this species fractured from a single group into seven distinct tribes, each with their own dialect and cultural idiosyncrasies. Now, one tribe, the Gjala, has stumbled across an intriguing and unusual object: a sunken corpse. As news travels across the ocean, and the other tribes converge to investigate, the consequences and questions raised will reverberate for generations to come.
“Underjungle” asks readers to give themselves up to another world: not just to step outside of themselves, but of their species. It’s a tale of love and war, encompassing the marine environment, science, art, philosophy and grief — as deep and surprising as life on the seafloor, where much of this story is set. Buoyed by humor and tinged with the unshakeable melancholy of loss is the existential question that forever ties the novel to our human experience: what is our purpose?
Sturz has covered the underwater world for The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, Outside as well as Men’s Journal, and is a PADI Divemaster.