Julie Otsuka’s third novel begins with a cast of characters swimming, for a variety of reasons, in an underground pool. When a crack in the pool’s foundation appears, all of the swimmers are disturbed and react in various ways. The Swimmers then focuses on one swimmer, Alice, and her nameless daughter who is the novel’s narrator. Alice has dementia, and when she can no longer swim, her grasp of reality becomes more pronounced.
Like her others works of fiction, Otsuka’s The Swimmers is slim yet emotionally charged. It is a fine read, however, the shift from the activity at the swimming pool to Alice’s decline was too abrupt.