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)
- 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
September 14, 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 is cost effective. 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 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!
In other news, 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!
June 23, 2019
It is officially summer, and with it comes warm breezes, glittering sunlight, and the sound and smell of the ocean as it hits the surf.
It is hard for me to believe that nine months have passed since The Oyster Thief was released back in October 2018! As summer arrives and the beach calls, I find myself starting to create a summer reading list. It is so much fun to get lost in a new story, whether it be fact or fiction, fantasy or true crime. I believe we should all take the time to experience the stories of others.
Reading The Oyster Thief by the water can be an especially immersive experience! Listening to the waves and dipping your feet in the water can conjure images of swimming with Coralline and Pavonis under the waves, chasing each other in a game of tag or sharing a meal of dulse and spirulina.
I want to know what you’re reading this summer! Send me a photo of your favourite book or summer reading spot through Twitter (@Sonia_Faruqi) or Instagram (@Sonia_Faruqi).
PLANT BASED FOODS
I remember that some years ago, plant-based burgers were hard to find. Not anymore. They are everywhere now! And rather than being an afterthought menu option, they are generally a signature menu item these days. If you’re looking for a juicy burger to sink your teeth into, Tim Hortons and fast food chain A&W carry tasty Beyond Meat burgers. Have you tried them yet?
As you know, I am passionate about animal welfare. My first book Project Animal Farm chronicles my journey to animal farms around the world. My story highlights the issues with factory farms and points the way to a more humane future.
Plant-based foods help not only animals but also us, by lowering cholesterol and improving overall nutrition. Eating low on the food chain is also good for the environment. Did you know that approximately 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef? As such, cutting down on meat consumption can save tons of water. Plant-based foods are also less land-intensive and can help save rainforests. Did you know that nearly 70 % of the Amazon has been deforested for mass beef production?
Fortunately, we can all make a difference—one meal at a time!
Stay cool this season and stay in touch.
May 25, 2019
May is one of those in-between months; the cold weather still lingers, and because it’s not quite as warm or dry as we would like, it can become difficult to get up and out of the house. I don’t know about you, but spring always makes me want to declutter and try new things! That’s why, this month I’ll be sharing some of the research that went into The Oyster Thief – so we can learn something new together!
MY WRITING PROCESS
Earlier this month I chatted with Josh Cane of “Working Title” Podcast. We talked about my writing process on The Oyster Thief, beta reader feedback, and the importance of real-world research to create an imaginative universe. Learning how to scuba dive while writing the book helped me to get to know the ocean as a living entity, and form a connection between myself, merpeople, and the environment. This hands-on research helped me to create the living community of merpeople and animals you can find in The Oyster Thief! Listen to the full podcast here.
I did a lot of interesting research about the ocean in order to create the setting for The Oyster Thief. The book is divided into three sections based on the three zones of light penetration: The Sunlight Zone, Twilight Zone, and Midnight Zone. The ocean is vastly deep—its average depth is about two miles, or three-and-a-half kilometers—but much of its life, and all of its photosynthesis, is concentrated in what is called the Sunlight Zone, a range of six-hundred-and-sixty feet, or two hundred meters, down from the waves. Half of the surface of the earth consists of the deep sea, which extends more than a mile down under the waves. Of the millions of species thought to live in the ocean, the majority are unknown to us because they live further down than humans can travel.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Sound does exist in the water, as do the other four senses, but it exists differently—it travels farther and four times faster in water than air, making its location difficult to pinpoint.
- There are three kinds of algae—green, brown, and red. Red are the most common, because of their ability to photosynthesize at great depths.
- Coral reefs cover only about 1 percent of the ocean floor but support about 25 percent of the life in the ocean.
- Some fish have anti-freeze proteins that permit their survival in sub-zero environments.
- Whales originated not from fish, but from mammals who left land for water millions of years ago. That’s why they move differently than fish: their tail slaps up and down over the waves instead of swishing right and left like a fish’s.
Did you know that the oceans are home to about ten thousand kinds of algae, and almost all are edible and nutritious? That’s why I’m sharing a recipe with you this month, one that includes spirulina, a green algae superfood that is high in protein, vitamin B12 and iron, and is beneficial to maintaining a healthy brain and keeping our digestive system, heart, lungs and liver healthy.
Spirulina Chia Pudding
2 cups almond milk (or your milk of choice)
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 teaspoons organic spirulina powder (find it here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 – 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or to taste)
Fruit, granola, nut butter or coconut flakes for toppings
Blend all ingredients together and allow chia pudding to thicken in the refrigerator for up to an hour (for best results chill overnight).
(Recipe credit to www.thesynergycompany.com)