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 email@example.com
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.
August 27, 2018
The story behind the story is that the idea of an underwater world fell into my mind on January 1st, 2015. It was a freezing-cold morning in Canada, and I wished I could escape into tropical waters. But it was too expensive to book a last-minute flight, so I decided to escape in my mind. With a cup of tea in hand, I started inventing an underwater world.
In the years since, I became so fascinated by the deep blue that I learned all I could about its swirling depths. I snorkeled, scuba-dived, swam with sharks, and pored over books and countless articles about the ocean. I also gave my imagination free rein.
Fast-forwarding to today, I am excited to announce that my project of passion and imagination, The Oyster Thief, will be released in October!
Here’s the story: When a mermaid and human man meet, they are forced to overcome their intrinsic enmity to embark on a quest into the depths of the sea for a legendary elixir. The Oyster Thief is an adventure, a mystery, a love story, while also featuring themes of ocean conservation.
The book has received an endorsement from Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of My Sister’s Keeper: “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.”
I am excited to announce that my publisher Pegasus Books is offering prizes for early bird purchasers. Those who pre-order in the three weeks from today, Mon, Aug 27, to Sun, Sep 16 will be entered into a contest to win one of three fabulous prizes:
- A gift basket of chocolates, cookies, and other delicious edibles
- An ocean spa collection of fragrant soaps, creams, and salts
- A beautiful, rare, ocean-themed wall clock
Every pre-ordered copy can be considered a ticket into the contest. In addition to having a higher chance of winning, those who pre-order three or more copies will also receive a personal thank you note.
So…my question for you is, who do you know who likes curling up with a novel? Your mom, a friend, a colleague? If so, give them the gift of The Oyster Thief! It will be the gift of a book, but also the gift of a journey to a world close but distant, deep below the waves.
August 25, 2018
When people ask me about writing, I tell them it’s a labor of love. But it’s not just the author’s love—the people who love you most often end up laboring a lot along the way as well.
My husband Aamer Hasham encouraged me to write and accompanied me to book events. My twin sister Sofia Faruqi listened to me talk about The Oyster Thief for hours on end. Her patient questions helped me untangle plot intricacies and her thoughts helped me devise new angles. My brother Salman Faruqi contributed tremendous big-picture thinking. An avid reader of fiction, he provided ideas to create more characters and enhance conflict.
Beta readers played a crucial role in the development of The Oyster Thief. In addition to my husband, brother, and sister, the team included: Stacey Gordon Sterling, who paid thorough attention to detail, Kristyn Nanlal Khetia, who delved into pace and emotion, and Lauren Friedwald, who focused on clarity and feeling. Without the commitment of the team of beta readers, The Oyster Thief would not be the same.
Sarah Krejci, Celia Kujala, Lucas Melbye, and Monisha Rahemtulla also provided feedback on early chapters, and Autumn Ladouceur and Ashley Ryan read very early iterations of the book.
My editor Jessica Case at Pegasus Books provided perceptive edits, contagious enthusiasm, and ambitious thinking. She was a delight to work with. Maria Fernandez provided interior design and typesetting, and Charles Brock from Faceout Studio designed a lovely cover.
Randall Abate, Jonathan Balcombe, Louisa Gilder, Lorraine Johnson, Rob Laidlaw, Nina Munteanu, and Misagh Parsa mentored and guided me in my writing career.
Friends offered a warm listening ear, including Monica Jain, Ismat Khatri, Barbi Lazarus, and Wei Su. Also, Nandita Bajaj, Barbara Center, Neel Desai, Mike Farley, Bruce Mason, Berna Ozunal, and Andrew Scorer supplied imaginative ideas for book promotion. Catherine Houle created a beautiful animated website.
I’m indebted to my parents Shaista and Amin Faruqi for their love and support. I’m also grateful to my parents-in-law, Shamim and Nazir Hasham; my siblings-in-law, Erik Desrosiers and Maha Hasnain; and my extended family, including and especially Zia Aleem, Javed Aleem, Perveen Matloob, Sultana Ali, and Shireen Begum.
May 29, 2018
I am excited to say that my Book Promotion Kick-Off Party went amazingly well! I am incredibly grateful to those who attended.
Here is some exciting ocean-related news:
- Australia’s government pledged $500 million dollars toward protecting the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, visible from outer space, stretching more than 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) off the coast of Australia.
- This summer, an organization called The Ocean Cleanup will attempt to launch its first cleanup inside the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.
- World Oceans Day is on June 8th! In addition to heading to the shore, you can learn about actions you can take for the oceans here.
Below are two events I am doing in June about food sustainability, explored in my first book Project Animal Farm. Please click on the links below to learn further details.
- Monday, June 4 at 7pm at Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street).
- Tuesday, June 12 at 6.30pm at Toronto Danforth/Coxwell Library (1675 Danforth Ave).
April 27, 2018
I am excited to announce that I will be hosting a Book Promotion Kick-Off Party at my home in Toronto on Tuesday, May 22nd, from 7 to 9pm, with snacks and refreshments. You are invited to join for an enjoyable evening of brainstorming ways for my upcoming debut novel The Oyster Thief to reach an audience!
If you’re interested in attending, please let me know by Tuesday, May 15 at email@example.com. If you know someone else who might be interested, please feel free to share the invitation below with them.
In other news, I did two events this month on food sustainability, which I explored in my first book, Project Animal Farm. The events were terrific—a couple of photos included below! I will be speaking about food sustainability also on the following dates over the next couple of months. Please click on the links below to learn further details or visit the Events page here. All events are free and open to the public.
- Sunday, May 6 at 10.30am at West Hill United Church (62 Orchard Park Drive, Scarborough, Toronto).
- Monday, June 4 at 7pm at Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street).
- Tuesday, June 12 at 6.30pm at Toronto Danforth/Coxwell Library (1675 Danforth Ave).