Morten Stroksnes, Tiina Nunnally
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Mr B's review
One journalist, one artist, one enigmatic, inedible, centuries-old shark…and one small rubber dingy. In this tale of dangerous obsession and farcical adventure, two friends set out to catch a legendary creature lurking in the uncharted depths surrounding the remote Lofoten Islands in Norway. What follows is by turns hilarious, soothing, and fascinating: a treasure chest of oceanic knowledge, and a love letter to the mystery and hardship of the sea.
** BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week **
Shark Drunk is, in part, the tale of two men in a very small boat on the trail of a very big fish. It is also a story of obsession, enchantment and adventure. A love song to the sea, in all its mystery, hardship, wonder and life-giving majesty.
In the great depths surrounding the remote Lofoten islands in Norway lives the Greenland shark. Twenty-six feet in length and weighing more than a tonne, it can live for 200 years. Its fluorescent green, parasite-covered eyes are said to hypnotise its prey, and its meat is so riddled with poison that, when consumed, it sends people into a hallucinatory trance.
Armed with little more than their wits and a tiny rubber boat, Morten Stroksnes and his friend Hugo set out in pursuit of this enigmatic creature. Together, they tackle existential questions, experience the best and worst nature can throw at them, and explore the astonishing life teeming at the ocean’s depths.
“Full of personal anecdotes, facts on marine life and life in general along coastal Norway, and about the hunt for a big fish … So, the book is much like fishing I guess – it’s not about the catch, it’s about just being there.” — Jo Nesbo * New York Times * “A fine book. A hymn of love to the sea. The story of a friendship. And a sad chronicle of so much that is wrong about our relationship with the oceans. Deserves to be read widely.” — James Rebanks, author of THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE “Stroksnes weaves his tale from a dense wool of close observation, fishing yarns, erudition lightly worn, and a helpless, consuming love of the ocean.” — William Finnegan, author of BARBARIAN DAYS “You sink into the deep waters alongside the hunters and live for a time in the alien world which covers most of our planet, among ancient sharks and vampire squid. It is brutal, scholarly, thoughtful, fascinating and often very beautiful: just like the nature it so wonderfully brings alive. You taste the sea on every page.” — Michael Pye, author of THE EDGE OF THE WORLD “Morten Stroksnes has enriched the world with a book of highly unusual originality… As a reader I took the bait and got firmly stuck to the hook.” — Fredrik Sjoberg, author of THE FLY TRAP “With the open-minded inquisitiveness of Charles Darwin and the obsession of Captain Ahab, Morten Stroksnes heads out to sea, chasing a monster of the deep known as the Greenland shark. Every page of Shark Drunk feels like a cabinet of curiosities, filled with head-scratching surprises, nuggets of wisdom, and wondrous insights. Gorgeously written and thoroughly addictive.” — Michael Finkel, author of THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS “Part of the joy of this strange but utterly engrossing book is that we never quite learn what drives the central thread… It is not a fishing drama, but a work of meditation and wonder with a horizon as wide and open as the Nordic coastlines that he so beautifully evokes.” — Mark Cocker * Spectator * “Stroksnes’s sidelong approach to science is beguiling… There are moments of adventure… but the triumph of this book is it descriptions… Its beauty, undemanding science and soothing, musing qualities have made the book a bestseller in Norway and beyond.” — Horatio Clare * Observer * “Shark Drunk weaves in folklore, history and science alongside colourful reportage from Stroknes. This enchanting maritime quest is about the power of friendship, derring-do and daring to dream big.” — Susan Swarbrick * Herald Scotland * “Shark Drunk is a fascinating and educating journey, written in a beautifully descriptive yet crisp style, that is a must-read for anyone who enjoys nature, is interested in the sea, or just want to escape to some Scandinavian fjords.” * Irish Times * “Every so often, a book comes quietly out of the blue and catches the world on its hook. This summer, the UK is set to fall, line and sinker, for the unlikely charms of a volume of quixotic reportage about fishing… The writing is worth savouring for its own sake. Wry humour gives way to vivid description… More people have travelled to space than into the ocean depths, he observes. But “maybe, like the universe, our consciousness is expanding”. Shark Drunk is a book that does just that, immersing you in a watery world where human life recedes to a pinprick of light. It’s a long while before your thoughts make it back to the surface.” — Bella Todd * Mr Porter * “A description of what happens to dead whales gives way to an impressively thorough history of the Aasjord family’s cos-liver-oil business… Shark Drunk does contain plenty of interesting stuff.” — James Walton * Daily Telegraph * “Mr Stroksnes beautifully describes the midnight sun, majestic fjords and moody stretches of sea, the changing light and the peaks that rise up out of the water, as well as the Moskstraumen, a system of whirlpools long feared by sailors… Putting “shark-drunk” man into perspective as the real threat to the ocean is one of the many threads Mr Stroksnes has pulled together in a narrative that takes in history and philosophy, mythology and folklore, from Norway’s fishing past to science and the cosmos. Rather than an account of two men trying to catch a shark, it is really a homage to the sea and a call to arms to protect the ecosystem that humans treat so abysmally yet rely on so much.” * Economist *
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