A Ship is Dying, by Brian Callison

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Had she not been swinging hard under full helm − had she, instead, taken the initial impact of the blow full on her reinforced stem − then she would have crumpled, flooded her forepeak tank, breached the collision bulkhead, even breached her forward hold space . . . yet Lycomedes might still have survived.

I had read this when I was 19 and living in Germany, and was moved to search it out again a few years ago – but then did not get around to reading it; it was the non-genre fiction book that had lingered longest unread on my shelves. It’s a vivid and succinct account of the sinking of a cargo ship in a storm on the North Sea, as the result of a collision with an uncrewed barge. The writer takes us inside the heads of many of the crew as catastrophe hits them hard and swiftly. I remembered several of the most striking images very clearly from thirty-five years ago. No women, of course, and a rather dodgy portrayal of the one Chinese crewman (though that is somewhat subverted at the end). But the big picture is very memorably done. You can get it here.

Next in the stack of long-unread non-genre fiction is Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, by Frank McGuinness.