An Underwater Odyssey
A Globe and Mail “Best Book of The Year”!
Sonia Faruqi had me at the word ‘mermaid.’ The Oyster Thief creates a lush, imaginary underwater world that somehow manages to reinforce the reality of the need for environmental awareness—it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read.
—Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of My Sister’s Keeper
Two worlds collide when a mermaid and human man meet, plunging readers into a vast underwater realm brimming with adventure and intrigue.
“The mermaid’s scales were bronze, and they shimmered like hundreds of pennies arranged close together. Her immense blue-green eyes gave a look of fragility to her face, yet he found her eyes unsettling. She was leaning against a thirty-foot-long shark, which emerged from behind her and opened its mouth to reveal a great big cavern lined with hundreds of teeth—a black tunnel ready to swallow him.”
Coralline is a mermaid who is engaged to the merman of her dreams. But when an oil spill wreaks havoc on her idyllic village life, her little brother falls gravely ill. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir made of starlight.
Izar, a human man, is on the cusp of an invention that will enable him to mine gold and diamonds from the depths of the ocean. His discovery will soon make him the richest man on earth—while threatening merpeople with extinction. But then, suddenly, Izar finds himself transformed into a merman and caught in a web of betrayal and intrigue. Meeting Coralline in the ocean, he decides to join her on her quest for the elixir, hoping it will turn him human again.
The quest pushes Coralline and Izar together, even though their worlds are at odds. Their pasts threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline leave her fiancé for a man who might betray her? And Izar has a dark secret of his own—one that could cause him to lose Coralline forever.
Read Chapter One: Fire and Water here!
Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is a richly imagined odyssey destined to become a classic.
The Oyster Thief deftly weaves a mermaid’s tale while bringing real and urgent ocean conservation issues to the reader’s attention. Dive in and enjoy!
—Dr. Sylvia Earle, award-winning ocean scientist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence
- Finalist for 2017 International Book Awards
- Runner-up for 2016 New England Book Festival Award
- Finalist for 2015 Chautauqua Prize
A critically acclaimed work of global investigative journalism
An engaging account about this most secretive of global enterprises.
—J. M. Coetzee, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Sonia had no idea that the night she arrived at the doorstep of a dairy farm would mark the beginning of a journey that would ultimately wind all the way around the world. Over the course of living with farmers, hitchhiking with strangers, and risking her life, she developed surprising insights and solutions, both about the food industry and herself. Delving into issues of animal welfare, human health, and the environment, Project Animal Farm aims to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants.
People will be talking about this book for decades.
—John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution
Author | Speaker
Sonia pushes the boundaries of imagination in her debut novel The Oyster Thief, an underwater odyssey. She is also the author of critically acclaimed Project Animal Farm, about the world’s food system. A skilled storyteller and speaker, she lives in Toronto, Canada.
- 22 Jan : Halton Peel Humanist Community (Mississauga, ON)
- 19 Sep : Probus Scarborough Centre (Scarborough, ON)
- 19 Sep : University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
Interested in an event in your area? Get in touch with Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org
December 14, 2019
I find December to be a wonderful month for so many reasons. People are full of light and happiness, hope and love, and that spirit carries us forward into the New Year. It is a season of traditions and generosity, and it is one of the reasons that I believe it to be one of the best seasons of the year. For me, the holidays always bring me back to The Oyster Thief, because the idea for my novel came to me on New Year’s Day.
I am so grateful that I was able to flesh out the idea of an oceanic wonderland, and turn my imagination into a book in people’s hands.
These days, I often find myself retreating to the couch with a cup of tea and a good book. Reading is an activity that can be enjoyed any time, in any place, and is good for the soul, but it seems to feel especially good on snowy days. Depending on where you are in the world, you may not get snow at all, but here in Canada, snow is one of the things we are famous for!
EUROPEAN UNION BAN ON PLASTIC
Next year, one of the things I want to do is reduce my plastic use—and I hope you consider doing the same.
I recently read that Canadians throw away over 3 million tons of plastic annually, and that less than 10% of it is recycled. The less we use plastic, the less we throw away.
But it’s hard. Sometimes really hard. Plastic is a part of the modern lifestyle and is pervasive in products—from their packaging to their make-up itself (and plastic is even in women’s make-up products).
I believe that government and business involvement is crucial in creating long-lasting change. Fortunately, it’s starting to happen. The European Union (EU) took an important, decisive step this year to protect ocean and land by banning and restricting plastics.
Single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws, stirrers, and polystyrene cups will be banned in EU member countries by 2021. In addition, product packaging will warn consumers of environmental damage they do by disposing of things incorrectly. A “polluter pays” principle will be extended to manufacturers of fishing nets so that companies pay the cost of nets lost or tossed overboard at sea. You can read more about the upcoming changes here.
THE COLDEST PLACES ON EARTH
Given the season, I’d like to share with you some fun facts about winter. Fortunately, I don’t live in a place that has snow year round, but in places like the Arctic, there is always at least one layer of ice. In fact, there are three different types of ice that cover the Arctic Ocean. (Polar ice doesn’t ever melt, but it can be as thin as two metres in the summer and as thick as fifty metres in the winter!)
The Arctic has an average temperature of -34° C in the winter, while in the summer the temperature can be as high as 12° C. In the Antarctic, the winters are much colder, with an average temperature being below -40° C. Are you wondering how fish and other animals survive in these environments? For some, the answer is anti-freeze.
Anti-freeze in the bodies of fish (such as the Arctic Cod) makes sure that if any small ice crystals form in the blood due to contact with ice, they cannot spread through the rest of the body.
On that note, I hope you stay warm and cozy this winter! My best to you and yours this holiday season.
September 29, 2019
The time has come at last! I’m so pleased to announce that on October 8, the paperback edition of The Oyster Thief will be available for purchase wherever books are sold! It has been an incredible year for me as an author.
From the book launch last year, to talking to bloggers and fans, and now the release of the paperback, I thought it would be great to look over some Oyster Thief highlights!
Here are some of my favorite endorsements and reviews.
“Sonia Faruqi had me at the word ‘mermaid.’ The Oyster Thief creates a lush, imaginary underwater world that somehow manages to reinforce the reality of the need for environmental awareness—it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read.” —Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of My Sister’s Keeper
“The Oyster Thief deftly weaves a mermaid’s tale while bringing real and urgent ocean conservation issues to the reader’s attention.” —Dr. Sylvia Earle, ocean scientist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence
“A stand-out in the current crop of books about merfolk is The Oyster Thief, the fiction debut of Sonia Faruqi. In its own way, The Oyster Thief is an activist tale too…. The charm of this beguiling novel is in all the details of the underwater world that Faruqi has dreamed up.” —The Globe and Mail
I was pleased to do two book events in Toronto this September. Ocean conversation and environmental awareness cross generations, as one event was for seniors and the other for university students.
And below are a few photos from the book launch party in October 2018!
September 29, 2019
It’s that time of year again when students go back to school to learn. I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons I’ve learned recently, and I’d like to share one with you. I recently rescued my dog, Rozetta, and this process taught me a lot about the world of dog adoption.
There are two ways to get a dog: buying and adopting. The key difference between them is that when you buy a dog, you normally do so from a backyard breeder or puppy mill; when you adopt a dog, you usually get the dog from a shelter.
WHY IS ADOPTING IMPORTANT?
According to the Humane Society of the United States, each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States. This number is high in Canada as well, with over 100,000 being euthanized every year. In Canada, the euthanasia rate equates to one cat or dog being killed every 5 minutes; in the U.S., it equates to 5 animals per minute.
These statistics are frightening, and certainly not what our loyal companions deserve. A lot of cats and dogs are euthanized because there just isn’t enough room in shelters. As such, when you adopt, you both adopt a loving pet and open a shelter spot for an animal who may need the space.
If that isn’t enough, here are a few more reasons to adopt rather than buy:
- Adopting costs less. The adoption fee often includes spay/neuter, a vet check-up, vaccinations, and microchipping. Getting a pet from a breeder or pet store can cost up to $500 extra dollars that you could spend on food and toys for your furry new friend!
- Personality. Animals in shelters are usually adults. This means they already have established personalities, and you know who you’re going to be living with. Some programs even match adopters with animals that best fit your personality and lifestyle.
- It’s the right thing to do. When you adopt, you’re changing the life of an animal by giving them a fresh start in a good home.
To learn more, check out these common myths about shelter dogs by Humane Canada.
My ocean novel The Oyster Thief paperback is coming out on Tuesday October 8! The paperback edition will be available wherever books are sold. In conjunction with the release date, my October newsletter will include some special highlights, endorsements, and previews of The Oyster Thief, exclusive to you!
Also coming soon: The Oyster Thief Audiobook.
Stay tuned for more information on the release date!
I was recently interviewed by talented writer Grace Kwan. In her interview, Profile of an Ocean Author, we discussed Project Animal Farm, The Oyster Thief, and what it means to be an “ocean author.” Here is an excerpt from the interview:
“Faruqi uses the process of writing a book to explore these social and environmental issues herself: ‘It’s a journey for me, from novice to knowledgeable. I never know in advance what I’m going to write about, and I think that’s the beauty of books. It’s a way to follow intellectual curiosity and see where it leads. I never know what I might be interested in a year later.’”
You can read the full article here.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Snake-like sharks – Frilled sharks are rarely seen by humans. They prefer to live at depths of 1500 meters below the surface, in the Midnight Zone of the ocean. They are likened to a mythical sea serpents due to their eel-like body, rounded head, and long jaws. While not related to sea serpents, these sharks bear the same characteristics of ancestors who swam in the oceans during the time of the dinosaurs. In 2007, the shark below was found in Japan, measuring 5.3 feet.
- Solar panels help plants – In September 2019, an exciting new study explains that in places where the soil is damaged and dry, many plants have a hard time thriving. But these researchers may have a way to help: solar panels! Agrivoltaics (solar sharing) is a new technique where agriculture and solar panels are placed close together in the hope that struggling plants will thrive. And it’s working! Out of a variety of tested plants, including peppers, jalapenos and tomatoes, this new system allowed the plants to thrive in the shade of the solar panels. In return, the plants give off water as they grow, cooling the panels and leaving them less sensitive to temperature! Read more about agrivoltaics
- Dalmations and fire – Nowadays Dalmatians tend to be the mascots of fire halls, but back in the days of horse-drawn fire carts, Dalmatians were actually trained by firemen to help during emergencies. Easily trained and good companions for horses, Dalmatians would run in front of horse-drawn carts to clear a path, guiding firefighters to the fires quickly. In addition to this, these dogs were good at keeping horses calm during fires and at night in the stables.
August 29, 2019
It’s hard for me to believe that August is wrapping up already – another year has come and gone again, bringing with it so many exciting opportunities! Since last October, I’ve launched my ocean novel The Oyster Thief, joined in dozens of great conversations with reporters, podcast hosts, and bloggers, and adopted my darling dog, Rozetta.
This August also brought my birthday, which gave me lots to be thankful for. In addition to my family, friends, and sweet Rozetta, I’m grateful for my readers and supporters. I have lots of news to share with you this month, including some inspiring environmental news, upcoming events, and a special surprise!
As part of the research for The Oyster Thief, I swam with sharks in Belize. I found sharks to be elegant, beautiful, and much misunderstood. Most people are terrified of sharks, but sharks kill less than ten people a year (generally mistaking them for other prey like seals), while people kill tens of millions of them a year. Sharks are often a by-catch of fishing and are also hunted for their fins, which are eaten in the form of shark fin soup.
Overfishing is a huge danger to marine health and ocean ecosystems, but Belize is becoming a world leader in protecting the ocean, thanks to the country’s recent implementation of “no-take” zones. These zones have bans on fishing, allowing fish populations to rebuild, and marine habitats to stay safe. The health of the Mesoamerican barrier reef is improving after the implementation of these fishing bans! Read more here.
There is good news also relating to land conservation. Ethiopia is taking a stand against climate change through a ‘green legacy’ initiative that aims to tackle deforestation by planting trees. 350 million trees have already been planted in Ethiopia! The country hopes to plant more than four billion trees this summer by encouraging citizens to plant at least forty trees each. See the full article here.
Thursday, September 19 will be a busy day for me, consisting of two events for The Oyster Thief in Toronto! You can find details below or on my Events page here.
- At 11 am, I will be speaking to the Probus Scarborough Centre at McGregor Park Community Centre (2231 Lawrence Ave East, Toronto).
- At 6 pm, I will be at the University of Toronto for Science Literary Week. I will be in the Gerstein Science Information Centre in the Alice Moulton Room. The event is free and open to anyone, student or not. The first 5 attendees will receive a free copy of The Oyster Thief, available for signing at the event! Complimentary refreshments will also be served. See the university’s poster below for more information. You can register for the event here.
- Pacific Ocean: The largest ocean on Earth is the Pacific Ocean, which covers around 30% of the Earth’s surface. The Pacific Ocean’s name has an original meaning of “peaceful sea.” Despite this original name, the Pacific Ocean is surrounded by the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a ring of active volcanoes.
- Izar: One of the two protagonists in The Oyster Thief is called Izar. I named this character and all the others in the book after stars and the sea. The name Izar refers to a binary star located about two hundred light-years away from us and five hundred times brighter than the sun. To the naked eye, Izar appears to be a single point of light, but it is actually two different stars close to one another; a bright orange star and a fainter, smaller star.
I’m so excited to announce that this October The Oyster Thief will be released in paperback! As we get ready for the release, I will be sharing some special excerpts of the book with you on my website and here in my newsletters. To dive into the first chapter of The Oyster Thief, Fire and Water, click here.
July 28, 2019
Did you know that July 30th is the International Day of Friendship? Celebrated by the United Nations, this day reminds us of all the special people who have helped us learn and grow throughout our lives.
The International Day of Friendship is important not only for humans, but also for our relationships with our wild cousins! By treating flora and fauna with respect, I find that we can celebrate nature in a way that both protects it and allows us to understand it better.
I recently watched a film that celebrates nature and shows it in its colorful, diverse, animated glory. You may guess what it is… it’s The Lion King! I remember having watched the movie as a child, but watching it now as an adult, I found myself appreciating the story and setting even more.
EXPLORING THIS SUMMER
Just two weeks ago, I saw a family of baby mink for the first time. I’ve only ever seen an adult mink before, and was pleased to come across three little ones. Their fur was a dark, glossy brown, and a white stripe ran along their chest. As I watched, they swam fluidly through lakewater then scampered onto rocks, before diving into the water again.
I hope I see more wildlife this summer! That said, though summer activities like hiking and biking can be tons of fun, it’s important to remember that as humans we are coming close to the homes of wild animals, both land and water. When visiting beaches or national parks, I try to remember and leave the space the way I found it.
Here are some tips for being a good friend and neighbor to nature this summer:
- Instead of drinking out of plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups, bring reusable ones.
- Bring reusable bags, utensils, and food containers when camping.
- Maybe it’s just me, but I also speak softly when I’m in nature. I believe this increases the chances of my seeing wildlife – so that they don’t run away from ruckus!