Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean

Morten Strøksnes, trans. from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally. Knopf, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-451-49348-4
An epic fishing trip reels in fascinating sea lore in this briny eco-adventure. Norwegian journalist Strøksnes recounts his sporadic, year-long quest with artist pal Hugo Aasjord to catch a Greenland shark, a huge creature. Many specimens are blind from eye-worms and spectacularly long-lived (one clocked in at 400 years old). Their flesh contains a toxin that renders those who eat it “shark drunk”: incoherent, hallucinatory, unsteady on their feet. Baiting their hooks with shark delicacies such as rotting beef and cod liver, Strøksnes and Aasjord pass long days with nary a strike while they weather storms and view stunning scenery in Norway’s Lofoten archipelago, vividly rendered by Strøksnes’s prose in Nunnally’s vigorous translation. (“The sun isn’t visible to us, but it casts its light around and in between the rain... like gigantic spotlights slowly sweeping across the surface of the water.”) Meanwhile, the author ponders everything related to the ocean, including bizarre luminous squids of the inky depths, frolicking orca pods and sperm whales, ancient disquisitions on maritime monsters, flinty islanders who live off the sea, and the close, testy relationships between fishing friends. Strøksnes’s erudition, salty humor, and unfussy prose yield a fresh, engrossing natural history. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Release date: 06/27/2017
Ebook - 978-0-451-49349-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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