Monday, August 17, 2015


Naomi J. Williams was born in Japan and spoke no English until she was six years old. Her debut novel, Landfalls, is a fictionalized account of the 18th-century Lapérouse expedition that left Brest in 1785 with two frigates, more than two hundred men, and overblown Enlightenment ideals and expectations, in a brave attempt to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.

Williams applied the Page 69 Test to Landfalls and reported the following:
Every chapter of Landfalls has a different narrator and different style, so any given page might only be representative of that section. Given that, page 69 comes in the middle of the longest chapter in the book, a chapter that could almost stand alone as a novella. It’s called “Concepción” and re-imagines the three weeks that the Lapérouse expedition spent in Chile in 1786.

This particular page does seem fairly representative of “Concepción,” in that you’ve got the expedition’s two captains talking (they interact with each other more in this chapter than in any other part of the book). And I’d hope readers who randomly dropped in here would be inspired to read on. We’ve got a crewmember being confined to his quarters for 48 hours and another crewmember taken seriously ill and the page concluding on the verge of a revelation about yet another problem on board.

Perhaps my favorite line on this page is where one captain says, of the sick man, “Let’s hope it’s our first and only death.” That line will quickly come to seem ironic and sad.
Visit Naomi J. Williams's website.

--Marshal Zeringue