An Underwater Odyssey
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.
- 18 Apr : Beaches Library (Toronto, ON)
- 23 Apr : Diane Frankling Co-op (Toronto, ON)
- 6 May : West Hill United Church (Toronto, ON)
- 4 Jun : Toronto Reference Library (Toronto, ON)
- 12 Jun : Danforth/Coxwell Library (Toronto, ON)
- 9 Sep : Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival (Toronto, ON)
- 25 Sep : Brampton Library (Brampton, ON)
- 27 Sep : Riverdale Library (Toronto, ON)
- 11 Oct : Book Launch Event of The Oyster Thief (Toronto, ON)
- 24 Oct : Northern District Library (Toronto, ON)
- 18 Nov : West Hill United Church (Toronto, ON)
Interested in an event in your area? Get in touch with Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 6, 2018
It’s been an exciting and busy time for The Oyster Thief! And momentum is picking up even more. Following last month’s successful book launch, The Oyster Thief has been receiving tremendous engagement across media and social media. I’ve gathered the latest updates for you below.
Also, you’ll see information in this update about a publicity intern role I am recruiting for, and book events!
MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA
I wrote an article about ocean science and conservation in The Ecologist, a world-leading environmental affairs platform based in the UK. Take a look here.
“The Oyster Thief is a richly realized underwater tale….[about] the importance of honoring your own radiance. It truly shines.” — Toronto Star
“Faruqi weaves science and environmental conservation facts into a fascinating tale of love, drama, and intrigue.” — Desi News
“I adored The Oyster Thief! I cannot recommend it enough.” — Literary Treats
“There isn’t often a book that both successfully educates as well as entertains, but The Oyster Thief manages to do both deftly.” — Don’t Forget Your Boots
“Sonia Faruqi built up an incredible world through poignant and fluid writing.” — Nerd Daily
If you’re in the mood for listening more than reading, you can have a listen to these two podcasts in which I chatted about the ocean, The Oyster Thief, and Rachel Carson: GSMC Book Review and Book Riot.
There’s a lot more coverage of The Oyster Thief than I’ve included in this note; you can find it here!
I am currently recruiting for a Publicity Intern position. The role involves leading and assisting with The Oyster Thief’s publicity efforts (e.g. media, events). The role offers a terrific hands-on learning opportunity for someone interested in marketing, entrepreneurship, writing, publishing, or the environment. It is a remote and part-time position. The ideal candidate is a keen learner and self-starter who is organized, professional, and communicative. If you’re interested (or have someone to recommend for the role), please e-mail me at email@example.com.
The book launch party of The Oyster Thief in Toronto was an amazing event. There were about 80 people in attendance, including leaders in the field of arts and business. Some photos below, courtesy of Iryna Goy and Tapas Easwar.
I am looking forward to my next event, which will be at West Hill United Church in Toronto. Here is the event information: Sunday, November 18 at 10.30am at 62 Orchard Park Drive.
November 4, 2018
I loved Philip Lymbery’s earlier books Farmageddon and Dead Zone, and so was excited when a friend gifted me a copy of Mr. Lymbery’s Farmageddon in Pictures (2017).
My thoughts on Farmageddon and Farmageddon in Pictures resemble Peter Singer’s thoughts on my own book, Project Animal Farm: “I thought I already knew everything there is to know about modern animal production, but I learned many new things from this very readable book, and you will, too.”
Mr. Lymbery is CEO of leading animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming, which combats factory farming at a global level. Farmageddon in Pictures is a concise, photography-filled version of Farmageddon. It contains the same incisive reporting, fairness, and depth.
The two Farmageddon books present a global overview of factory farming today and why it is dangerously problematic. The books discuss and draw connections between, for instance:
- Animal welfare – the intensive confinement of farm animals
- Health concerns – antibiotic resistance, flu viruses
- Wildlife endangerment – the cycle of pesticides, genetically modified crops, and monocultures destroys habitats for birds, bees, and butterflies
- Environmental issues – the entire factory farming system is an example of a waste of limited resources; in addition, manure pollutes soil and water
Parts of Mr. Lymbery’s investigative journey resembled my own in the research for Project Animal Farm, including visits to mega-dairies in California. He takes the conversation on factory farming further than most, however, by diving into the increasingly important realm of fish farming.
In conclusion, Mr. Lymbery lays out how we can all be a part of the solution by eating more conscientiously and encouraging better farming practices. You can find Mr. Lymbery’s work on Amazon here.
Farmageddon: the quiet revolution of mega-farming that is threatening our countryside, farms, and food.
Farm animals have been disappearing from our fields as the production of food has become a global industry. We no longer know for certain what is entering the food chain and what we are eating–as the UK horsemeat scandal demonstrated. We are reaching a tipping point as the farming revolution threatens our health and the quality of our food wherever we live in the world.
Farmageddon is a fascinating and terrifying investigative journey behind the closed doors of a runaway industry across the world–from the UK, Europe and the USA, to China, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico. It is both a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices and an attempt to find a way to a better farming future.
November 3, 2018
Jodi Picoult’s latest book A Spark of Light is a terrific read. The novel’s structure is interesting in two ways, both of them challenging but superbly executed: The story builds backward from the climax, and there are several characters with points of view.
The characters’ perspectives are in conflict to one another—to the point of life and death—but Picoult portrays them all in a way that makes them easy to empathize with. The book focuses on the theme of women’s reproductive rights. The topic is difficult, divisive, and controversial, but Picoult handles it courageously and fairly.
Within the fast-moving story, there are moments of writerly depth. A couples passages particularly stood out to me:
“One minute, Olive had been there, staring so fierce at Wren—as if she could hold on to the world if her eyes stayed open—and then, in a beat, those eyes stopped being windows and became mirrors, and Wren saw only a reflection of her own panic.”
To be a woman mean to have “to make decisions, sometimes terrible ones. Children were told what to do. Adults made up their own minds, even when their options tore them apart.”
Picoult did a tremendous amount of research in order to portray the topic honestly. In addition to speaking to experts in the field, Picoult spoke with 151 women about their abortions. Her concluding sentence in the Acknowledgments section is, “It is my hope that as more stories like this are told, fewer women will have to remain anonymous.”
In her concluding notes, Picoult also connects status and class with the topic of women’s reproductive rights. It is illuminating to read, for instance, that between the years 2000 and 2008: “For women in poverty, abortion rates increased 18 percent. For wealthy women, abortion declined by 24 percent. That means poor women are getting pregnant when they don’t want to. In fact seven out of ten women who terminated a pregnancy made less than $22,000 a year.”
A Spark of Light is an excellent book for all kinds of readers—for women who have had abortions or considered them, for women and men who are opposed to them, and for anyone who wants to read an enjoyable story told at a galloping pace.
The lives of ordinary people become intertwined when a gunman takes hostages at a women’s clinic in the #1 New York Times bestselling author’s latest.
At Mississippi’s sole remaining women’s reproductive services clinic, a gunman bursts in and takes its patients and staff hostage. The stories that brought these individuals to the clinic vary, from a woman awaiting cancer screening results to a protestor hoping to catch the clinic in a scandal that could be used in a pro-life campaign. Then there is the police hostage negotiator, whose daughter is also trapped inside the facility, and the gunman himself, who has a vendetta to carry out. Meanwhile, across the state, a seventeen-year-old woman lands in the hospital after an attempt to self-terminate her pregnancy and is subsequently charged by the pro-life DA for the murder of her unborn child. They, too, are connected to the events unfolding in the clinic.
As the book moves backward in time, each chapter set one hour earlier than the last, we learn how all these people and their stories are unwittingly connected–and that none of these characters’ reasons for being where they are at this fateful place and time are exactly what it appears at first glance.
October 9, 2018
The Oyster Thief has been getting a ton of attention on social media! The most beautiful half-dozen shots from just the last week are below.
The Oyster Thief has been enjoying a very active blog tour! Here’s what bloggers are saying.
“I found the novel truly enchanting throughout.” —Pop Culture Bandit
“This book is dreamy, refreshing, and heartening.” —Read with Sam
“It’s a great adventure story with memorable characters.” —Kristin Kraves Books
“This book is a beautifully written story of an underwater adventure.” —Books on the Bookshelf
“Faruqi’s writing really shines through the description of her setting.” —Biblio Virgo
You can read more endorsements and reviews of The Oyster Thief here.
The Oyster Thief has been amassing rave reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads! Here is one of the latest, by Lara Marshall, who lives in the U.K.: “Wow! Faruqi has created a world that is tangible and beautiful. The ending was perfect and I could have read at least another 100 pages more.”
I am pleased to announce that I did my 50th book event last week. Almost all 50 events were for my first book Project Animal Farm except for the last three, which I am showing below. The photo to the right is from the Fall Preview event of Penguin Random House Canada, where I am pleased to say that The Oyster Thief was spotlighted as a fall release.
There are four events coming up soon:
- The book launch party of The Oyster Thief will be a fun-filled gathering on Thursday, October 11. We are almost at capacity for the event but there’s still just a little room left. The invitation is below and you can find the event on my website here.
- I will be doing a Reddit session for the first time. You will be able to ask me anything on Wednesday, October 17. I will be sharing the Reddit links on social media next week (@Sonia_Faruqi on Instagram and Twitter).
- Book talk on Wednesday, October 24 at 7pm at Northern District Library (40 Orchard View Blvd, Toronto).
- Book talk on Sunday, November 18 at 10.30am at West Hill United Church (62 Orchard Park Drive, Toronto).
September 20, 2018
I have lots of updates in the lead-up to the launch of The Oyster Thief: the book launch party, reviews, names of the winners of the pre-order contest, notes on next steps, and Chapter One of The Oyster Thief—now available for you to read!
BOOK LAUNCH PARTY
The book launch party will be held on Thursday, October 11 at 7pm at The Theatre Center in Toronto (1115 Queen Street West, next to the Drake Hotel). A big thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and Another Story Bookshop for organizing.
I am honored that The Oyster Thief has received an endorsement from the world’s foremost ocean scientist and one of my personal heroes, Dr. Sylvia Earle! “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!”
The newspaper The Globe and Mail describes The Oyster Thief as one of its most anticipated fall reads and says in its review: “A stand-out in the current crop of books about merfolk is The Oyster Thief, the fiction debut of Sonia Faruqi…. The charm of this beguiling novel is in all the details of the underwater world that Faruqi has dreamed up.”
I am also looking forward to the following library events later this month:
- On Tuesday, September 25, I will speak about food sustainability and Project Animal Farm at 7pm at Cyril Clark Library (20 Loafers Lake Lane, Brampton).
- On Thursday, September 27, I will speak about ocean conservation and The Oyster Thief at 6.30pm at Riverdale Library (370 Broadview Avenue, Toronto).
Pegasus Books and I ran a pre-order campaign for The Oyster Thief that just wrapped up on Sunday, September 16. The winners are…
- Deb Teachout, a veterinarian based in Illinois. Deb said: “I just bought three copies of your new book, and I can’t wait to read it! One for me, and two for Christmas presents.”
- Robert Winterbottom, a consultant based in New Hampshire. Robert said: “I am certainly looking forward to reading your book, as I am concerned about the health of our oceans and the planet and am interested in a novel that deals with the underwater world. I don’t have a chance to read many novels or fantasies, but still recall how much I enjoyed reading the Tolkien trilogy and imagining the world of hobbits and middle Earth.”
- Sonia Schnee, a filmmaker based in New Jersey. Sonia said: “I can’t wait to start reading The Oyster Thief. I’m ready to be whisked away on a gorgeous adventure!”
Deb, Robert, and Sonia will be winning an ocean spa collection, a gift basket of chocolates, and a beach-themed wall clock, courtesy of Pegasus Books. Congratulations to the winners, and a big thank you to Pegasus Books for the generous prizes!
There’s still plenty of time for you to pre-order your copy before the book comes out in October! You can get The Oyster Thief at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, or your neighborhood bookstore.
In the next weeks, you can expect more events and media coverage of The Oyster Thief. There’s also going to be a blog tour! I am including below some photos taken (from left to right) by bloggers Read with Sam, Kristin Kraves Books, and Biblio Virgo, all of whom are participating in the tour. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to remain updated on the blog tour and more!
I am excited to share with you Chapter One of The Oyster Thief. You can find the start of the chapter below, and you can read or download the whole of it as a pdf here.
The fantasy novel features two protagonists, mermaid Coralline and human Izar. The chapter commences with Coralline’s perspective and continues on with Izar’s. I hope you enjoy the read, and would love to learn your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter One: Fire and Water
“This supper is a special occasion, Coralline,” said Trochid.
Coralline frowned at her father. The eighth of July meant nothing to her. But her mother had set the table with their finest limestone plates, which did suggest that it was, in fact, an occasion of some sort. But it was not Algae Appreciation Day or Horrid Humans Day. It was not Coralline’s birthday, nor was it either of her parents’ birthdays. That meant it had to be…Ecklon’s birthday—his twenty-sixth! They hadn’t been together long enough to have celebrated his birthday together, but he had recently mentioned the surprise party his fellow detectives had organized for him last year. Coralline had neglected to note the date.
His birthday would explain why he looked particularly handsome this evening, in a jet-black waistcoat with half a dozen large lettered olive shells forming a column of buttons down the center. Coralline’s mother was also elegantly attired—in a white corset with wispy sleeves that fluttered gently about her shoulders—as was Coralline’s father—in a new, tan waistcoat. Come to think of it, Coralline herself was also well dressed, though it was not intentional on her part.
She had returned home late from work, swum into her bedroom, and proceeded to do what she usually did at the end of a long day: massage the muscles in the back of her neck with her fingertips, in an attempt to loosen the knots formed over a day of bending over medications at The Irregular Remedy. She had then burrowed under her blanket and, closing her eyes, had thought of her most unusual patient of the day: ninety-one-year-old mermaid Mola, who suffered from dementia and whose memories of her husband kept falling as irreversibly out of her mind as her molars had fallen out of her mouth.
Coralline had been about to drift off into a nap when her mother rushed into her bedroom, flung off her blanket, and, surveying Coralline’s corset, pronounced, “You can’t dress so hideously for supper. Ecklon is coming, remember?” Her mother then handed her a new corset she had sewn for her, with emerald vines that met and separated over a glistening bronze fabric that precisely matched the bronze scales of Coralline’s tail. Coralline had slumped on a chair in front of the mirror as her mother had tugged her long black hair into a pillowy mound at the crown of her head and circled the bun with a string of little white spirula shells.
How embarrassing that Coralline had forgotten Ecklon’s birthday, especially given how he had spoiled her on her own birthday a few months ago. He had taken her to their favorite restaurant, Alaria, where he had presented her with The Universe Demystified, the latest book by the stargazer Venant Veritate. Like a telescope into the universe, The Universe Demystified had opened brilliant new galaxies in Coralline’s mind. Ecklon admired Venant just as much as Coralline, describing him as “the detective of the universe,” but she still couldn’t imagine how Ecklon had managed to get the book autographed, for the stargazer was known to be just as reclusive as he was illustrious.
It was true that Coralline’s wages as an apprentice apothecary at The Irregular Remedy were meager, but she could still have gotten Ecklon a pen as a gift, perhaps an engraved one, which he could use in taking notes during his investigations. In the absence of any gift, the least she could do was sing. Clearing her throat, she began….
Dive into the world of merpeople by continuing to read The Oyster Thief here.