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
December 6, 2018
I enjoyed collaborating with What If and INSH on the making of a video, “What if Mermaids and Mermen Existed?” I wrote the script and the What If team turned it into a beautiful four-minute production! Watch it here. (In less than an hour, it amassed 65,000+ views!)
The video is based on my debut novel, The Oyster Thief, in which two worlds collide when a mermaid and human man meet (available on Amazon here). The video follows a day in the life of a merperson.
Here are a few facts you may never have considered about living life in the deep blue:
Your furniture would be made of stone! Limestone, sandstone, shale, slate—it can all be found in the ocean.
Your morning routine would be pretty much taken care of. After all, why shower when you are surrounded by water? You wouldn’t have to worry about a face scrub or toner, because saltwater minerals would keep your complexion continually clean and rejuvenated.
When leaving your home, you could just as easily swim out the window as the door.
The view outside your home would rival anything above the surface. Underwater mountain ranges, volcanoes, and lush meadows of grasses would be just a few features to marvel at.
As for food, your diet would consist primarily of seaweed. Did you know that there are 10,000 different species to choose from?
But how would you pay for your food (or anything else in the underwater economy)? Not through coins or credit cards, of course, but through…shells. In the water, certain kinds of shells would be categorized as currency and given denominations. This is not so surprising, given that some human cultures have historically also used shells as currency. Where do you think we get the phrase “shelling out money?”
Dive into an intricate and stunning world of merpeople in The Oyster Thief. The book features the story of Coralline and Izar, a mermaid and a human man, whose lives and worlds coincide to tell a tale rich in adventure and intrigue. The Globe and Mail has chosen The Oyster Thief as a top 100 book of 2018. Get it on Amazon here!
About the Author: I am the author of The Oyster Thief, an underwater fantasy novel, and Project Animal Farm, a work of critically acclaimed investigative journalism about the world’s food system. I provide exclusive content through my website and monthly newsletter at www.soniafaruqi.com. Questions or thoughts? Email me at email@example.com. And follow me on Instagram @Sonia_Faruqi to get the latest.
“Faruqi possesses a unique ability to create a fantastical underwater world while tying in explicit scientific facts…. The Oyster Thief is entertaining and informative.” – Forbes
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).