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 International Book Award
- Runner-up for New England Book Festival Award
- Finalist for 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, with her husband, son, and two dogs.
- 18 Oct : Book Club (Virtual)
Interested in an event in your area? Get in touch with Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org
August 7, 2021
I recently finished Clean Meat and found it to be a seminal book on the topic of meat grown using tissue culture rather than living animals. (This meat goes by various names, including clean meat, cell-cultured meat, and cultivated meat.)
The author Paul Shapiro’s research is detailed and the writing flows spectacularly well. The book helped me understand the people in the space as well as the companies and the possibilities.
Shapiro mentions that factory farms can lead to a pandemic; this seems especially relevant given that we are currently in a pandemic. (I also mention in my book Project Animal Farm that factory farms are breeding grounds for disease.)
Shapiro points out that the technology of clean meat isn’t as new as we might think—it is similar to that of beer breweries and growing bacteria for yogurt.
In the same way that whale oil and horse carts are a part of the past, it is possible that factory farms will one day be a part of the past. This will be a good thing, given that factory farms ignore animal welfare, as I document in Project Animal Farm. Clean meat can be like clean energy in that it offers an alternative to conventional production. The impact on the environment, animals, and human health would be tremendous.
I also enjoyed McKinsey’s recent report on clean meat, titled Cultivated Meat: Out of the lab, into the frying pan.
The report concludes: “Cultivated meat has the potential to replicate the taste, texture, smell, of conventional meat… Since developing the first prototypes, companies have been able to reduce production costs by 99 percent” in less than a decade.
The report expects clean meat to achieve cost parity with conventional meat by 2030. It concludes, “Cultivated meat has garnered significant attention as a protein source that can meet consumer needs with a reduced impact on the planet. That potential is real.”
I find the potential of clean meat very exciting for animal welfare and the environment! It is possible that in the next decades the meat industry will look very different, relying on science rather than factory farms.
June 20, 2021
This Father’s Day almost coincides with mine and Aamer’s wedding anniversary of June 22, 2014.
The last seven years have been a whirlwind! But none has been as eventful as the last, when we welcomed our son Raheem into our lives. Aamer and I had to learn to work together as a tight-knit team, whether it came to changing baby diapers or doing baby’s bedtime.
I am continually inspired by Aamer’s kindness and generosity. We share a passion for animals and the environment. And Aamer makes Raheem laugh like no one else can.
I am looking forward to Raheem getting to know his father more and more over time! May they enjoy long summer bike rides and cozy winter nights in the future.
This Father’s Day, I am grateful also for my father and father-in-law, both of whom are devoted grandfathers. Raheem is a fortunate little boy to have a loving father and doting grandfathers!
June 17, 2021
I am excited to have been interviewed by World Class Performer. You can find parts of the interview below! The full interview is located here.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I would have realized that it is possible to multi-task effectively. I am continuing to work on that.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
In writing my first book Project Animal Farm, I visited animal farms in several countries to investigate the treatment of animals. I found that most farm animals are housed in long dark sheds called factory farms. Their conditions troubled me. I could have decided to stop visiting farms and go back to my regular life or to do something about what I was witnessing. I decided to do something—to write a book about and bring attention to farm animal conditions. As such, I came out of the dark period of visiting factory farms by creating action in the form of a book.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I work hard and try my best! I also have a wonderful support network in the form of my husband, parents, siblings, and friends.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
First things first, by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Until thought is allied with purpose there can be no intelligent accomplishment, James Allen, in his essay As a Man Thinketh
May 9, 2021
The world has changed since the corona virus pandemic began in 2020. My world has also changed—not just because of the pandemic but also because I have had a baby.
My son was born in September 2020. With his birth, my home grew by two feet and lots and lots of personality!
I love everything about my son. His long lashes, his snub nose, his smooth cheeks. I love to cradle his face in my hands.
I love his voice. Like the chirp of birds, it is music to my ears.
I adore when he cackles and giggles, and I adore his every cuddle and yawn.
Today marks my first Mother’s Day. Until I became a mother myself, I didn’t appreciate all that my mother has done for me and continues to do for me. All the meals she has cooked, all the homework she has helped with, all the stories she has read aloud, all the encouragement and advice she has provided, all the conversations we have enjoyed.
I have been relishing the role of mother and feel deeply grateful for my son, my husband, my parents, and my siblings.
I endeavor to be a mother to my son like my own has been to me.
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.