A sea adventure worthy of comparison to Conrad and Melville, The Sharks tells the tale of "the last, meaningless, incomprehensible voyage" of the bark Neptune. The novel is set in the year 1899; the issues of diversity, violence, oppression, love, and interdependence presented are familiar concerns for contemporary readers at the end of this century. The narraator is Neptune's second mate Peder Jensen, a sailor who is afraid of the sea and yet can not leave it: "This is my fate and my curse: to love what I hate." The polarity, and ultimate union, of opposites is a theme which runs throughout this allegorical book. A white European, Jensen is in a privileged position as officer aboard a British ship. He gains our sympathy by being aware of his privilege and resisting the role of oppressor. He feels a revulsion toward his sometimes cruel and greedy fellow-officers and is supportive of the crew, "that strange assemblage of folk from every corner and edge of the globe, of every colour and race, denizens of the whole world's docks and ports." As the crew moves toward mutiny, Jensen is caught in the middle of the power struggle betweeen groups. Throughout the book, Bjorneboe acknowledges the inextricable connections between people and the mixture of good and bad in all of us. Jensen learns that he can not truly be as independent as he imagines himself, free of all ties: "One's every act toward another -- help included -- brings obligations and creates fate. One is caught in the net." Love and hate are two sides of the same coin; Jensen reflects that "of course destruction dwells in us all. In each there lives a murderer. But there also dwells a saviour and rescuer in us." The surprising and uplifting ending of the book brings out the best in each of the characters, and leaves the reader with a sense of hope for the uncertain future. Sensitively rendered into English by translator Esther Greenleaf Murer, this book represents a significant contribution to world literature, as well as being "a good read."