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.
- 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 email@example.com
February 18, 2019
These cold winter days, I am reminded of why I decided to write The Oyster Thief in the first place. It was the winter of 2015, and I wanted a winter escape. I dreamt of a vast beautiful underwater world. I didn’t quite know how to reach it, so I decided to create it myself.
The world I envisioned brimmed with not only brightly colored fish and algae, but also merpeople. In my imagination, merpeople lived deep below the waves. They lived in rounded homes made of stone, which looked like swellings rising off the seabed. Merpeople lived among coral reefs and gardens of algae. (Given that the majority of algae are red, their gardens were more red in color than green.)
In my imagination, merpeople used sea-shells as currency (as some human tribes have in the past, hence the expression “shelling out money”). Their lives were similar to human lives in some respects—for instance, they danced and they ate dessert—but their lives were also different—for instance, their dances had names like the Seahorse Sprance and the Undulating Jellyfish, and a popular dessert for them was devil’s apron, a kind of sugar kelp.
If you’d like to behold the world of merpeople, you can do so in this 4-minute video for which I wrote the script based on The Oyster Thief. More than a million people have watched it.
If you’d like to be in the world of merpeople, you can do so by reading this BRAND-NEW excerpt from The Oyster Thief, never before shared outside of the book. If you’ve read The Oyster Thief, you know that almost all of the story is depicted from the perspective of the two protagonists, mermaid Coralline and human Izar. But one of my favorite scenes in the story is from the perspective of Coralline’s fiancé, Ecklon, a handsome and brilliant detective. Below, he investigates the murder of a merman named Tang—a murder in which Coralline is the principal suspect.
EXCERPT: ECKLON’S INVESTIGATION
Ecklon often knew how difficult a murder case would be as soon as he swam through the door of the murder scene. This would be a difficult case, he recognized, as he swam through the door of Tang Tarpon’s home.
His gaze roved over the half-dozen empty decanters of wine forming a semicircle on the floor. His attention then shifted to Tang’s bookshelf. Ecklon had read two of Tang’s murder mysteries, The Vanished Whelk and The Under-Minister’s Assassination, and he’d liked them, finding them to be full of uncanny surprises and unexpected twists.
Tang’s body was no longer in the living room—it was being examined by the Forensics Department of the Under-Ministry of Crime and Murder—but the smell of his blood lingered. The murder-mystery writer had, ironically, become the subject of his own real-life murder mystery.
Most people wanted to have an interesting life, but Ecklon also wanted to have an interesting death—a death of the sort for which a detective like himself would be required. He wondered whether Tang had felt similarly; probably not.
Ecklon slipped away from the bookshelf and looked about the small, shabby living room. His gaze dropped to the murder weapon on the floor, a dagger with a serpent-encrusted hilt. He collected the dagger, ran his hand over its hilt. He had a passion for daggers, as did many at the Detective Department of the Under-Ministry of Crime and Murder. He was attentive to the style of dagger carving, just as mermaids were attentive to the style of their bodices; he evaluated dagger blades on the basis of their shine and sharpness, just as mermaids evaluated fabrics on the basics of their sheen and softness. The merman who’d owned this serpent-encrusted dagger seemed to have a passion for daggers as well.
Ecklon would begin his murder investigation by interviewing dagger carvers in an attempt to learn the identity of the owner of this dagger. Dagger carvers were often ancient mermen, for dagger carving was an art that was becoming lost over time—a shame, in Ecklon’s opinion. The elderly age of dagger carvers meant two things: Their memories were often weak, and they may have sold a dagger decades ago, making recollection of the purchaser difficult. But Ecklon would have to try nonetheless. Once he had an identity, it wouldn’t take long to find a motive, he knew from experience. Placing the serpent-encrusted dagger carefully in his satchel, he extracted his own dagger.
His dagger had been designed by the most elderly dagger carver in Urchin Grove, an eighty-five-year-old merman with arthritic hands, and it featured an eagle ray wing across the hilt, because Ecklon’s muse Menziesii was an eagle ray. He had not told Coralline, but, soon after their wedding, Ecklon planned to return to the same dagger carver and have a new dagger designed for himself, one encrusted with the precious olive-green gemstone peridot in the branching shape of coralline algae. That way, Ecklon would think of Coralline every time he wielded his dagger—and he would wield it always to protect her, to protect them.
He remembered the day he’d tried to teach her how to wield a dagger. After some half-hearted flicking of her wrist, she had handed his dagger back to him. He had put his dagger away patiently, deciding to try to teach her again after they were married. He carried a dagger and a pair of handcuffs in his satchel at all times, to defend and to intercept, respectively; it was imperative to him that his wife know how to wield the former and stay out of the latter.
January 28, 2019
I am excited about the journey 2019 has to offer for The Oyster Thief and the oceans.
Good news! More than three-quarters of marine mammal and sea turtle populations have significantly increased after their species were listed in the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to a study released this month.
On the other hand, the oceans are getting louder, according to a New York Times article. Increasing ship traffic and seismic exploration for offshore drilling are disrupting the lives and chatter of sea creatures large and small, from whales to zooplankton. (Imagine that there was construction happening outside your window every day, so loud that you couldn’t hear the person sitting next to you.)
Though the din in the oceans is greater, steps are being taken to reduce plastic pollution. On January 1st, Washington D.C. began a ban on single-use plastic straws in restaurants and other service businesses, becoming the first major U.S. city to do so.
The question is: Are straws just straws, or are they more? I believe they’re more. The conversation around straws is part of the broader conversation around the use of plastic and moving toward more sustainable alternatives. Most straws end up in landfills, but others contribute to the 8 million tons of plastic that enter the oceans every year. You can watch an illuminating three-minute video on plastic straws here, narrated by actor Adrian Grenier.
“In The Oyster Thief, Faruqi creates a full-fledged, highly believable merworld using beautiful imagery and demonstrating a deep understanding of ocean conservation and marine life.”
“The Oyster Thief is a fascinating novel that blends mermaid lore with social commentary on how we treat the environment.”
“The Oyster Thief is a captivating blend of fantasy and environmental activism—and it is more than that. It is the first novel to feature an underwater civilization alongside themes of ocean conservation.”
—Green Living Guy
I received a kind note from a reader Jenny, who wrote: I am an avid reader therefore I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed The Oyster Thief. It was spellbinding to say the least. A beautiful love story about our oceans….I couldn’t put it down! I think it would make a wonderful film for both youth and adults. I will also check out Project Animal Farm.”
Want to test the waters? Dive into the first chapter of The Oyster Thief here!
I enjoyed speaking on the Get Lit podcast about The Oyster Thief and the writing process. You can listen here!
The results are in! There were several great answers to the “What would you most like about being a merperson?” contest announced in the December newsletter, but there can only be one winner! Congratulations Asha! Asha answered: “What I would most like about being a mermaid is that I would have deeper insights into ocean life and underwater creatures.”
December 18, 2018
Have you ever wondered how mermaids live? What they eat, where they sleep, what they wear?
These questions, and more, are answered in a new four-minute video titled, “What if You Were a Merperson?” The video has amassed ~1 million views. I wrote the script and the production was done by the talented team at What If. You can plunge into the world of merpeople by watching the video here!
The Oyster Thief is viral not only in video form, but across all media. It is a Globe and Mail “Best Book of the Year.” And here are some more reviews:
“The world’s first ocean conservation novel. Faruqi possesses a unique ability to create a fantastical underwater world while tying in explicit scientific facts…. The Oyster Thief is an entertaining and informative mix of ocean science and literary fiction.”
“The Oyster Thief opens a portal to a world of merpeople for readers to have an exhilarating deep-sea experience, while underlining the significance of ocean conservation as a real-world issue. The book is becoming a favorite among readers.”
(Credits, from left to right: Angel @live.laugh.love.library, Alissa @morrigans_books, and Irene @my_magicalbookish.corner)
“The Oyster Thief is an amazing debut novel. With gorgeous prose and extraordinarily real characters, this is a book you will easily fall in love with. From the very first page, I was hooked.”
—Looking Glass Reads
“There was something timeless about this book. It is definitely one that I will remember.”
—The Pages in Between
“Like the ocean is deep, The Oyster Thief has layers that ask you important questions about sacrifice.”
—Utopia State of Mind
(Credits, from left to right: Stacey @prose_and_palate, Kaya @lunaukaya, and Nur @cg_nurbayah)
If you’re looking for some relaxing holiday reading, you can get a copy of The Oyster Thief at your local bookstore or at Amazon!
- I chatted on Sourcing Matters about The Oyster Thief and environmental fiction (fiction that features environmental themes).
- I talked to Brian on Don’t Forget Your Boots about Project Animal Farm, The Oyster Thief, and sustainability.
Youtube: You can watch the following vloggers discuss The Oyster Thief:
- Roya Eve, who says, “It really makes you feel as if you’re in a whole new world, one that is magical yet also a celebration of our natural oceans.”
- William Keeble, who says, “I’ve never read a fantasy book like this and it’s genuinely quite surprising.”
- Iasmina, who says she enjoyed the “writing and world-building.”
(Credits, from left to right: Asma @oasisgirlmd, Tina @tbretc, and Corinne @lavieestbooks)
My publisher Pegasus Books and I are excited to offer a holiday giveaway of The Oyster Thief to subscribers of my monthly newsletter and followers on Instagram. To enter, answer this question: What would you like most about being a mermaid or merman? You can enter the giveaway contest by tagging me on Instagram with your answer @Sonia_Faruqi or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. One winner will be chosen from among the entrants. The giveaway ends Fri, Dec 21 and is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.
I wish you and your family a lovely holiday season!
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.