307 pages, 1 b/w map
In the great depths surrounding the remote Lofoten islands in Norway lives the Greenland shark. Twenty-six feet in length and weighing more than a tonne, it can live for 200 years. Its fluorescent green, parasite-covered eyes are said to hypnotise its prey, and its meat is so riddled with poison that, when consumed, it sends people into a hallucinatory trance.
Armed with little more than their wits and a tiny rubber boat, Morten Strøksnes and his friend Hugo set out in pursuit of this enigmatic creature. Drawing on science, poetry, history, ecology and mythology, Shark Drunk is the story of their quixotic quest. Together, they tackle existential questions, experience the best and worst nature can throw at them, and explore the astonishing life teeming at the ocean's depths.
Shark Drunk is, in part, the tale of two men in a very small boat on the trail of a very big fish. It is also a story of obsession, enchantment and adventure. Above all, it is a love song to the sea, in all its mystery, hardship, wonder and life-giving majesty.
"Morten Strøksnes has enriched the world with a book of highly unusual originality [...] As a reader I took the bait and got firmly stuck to the hook."
– Fredrik Sjöberg, author of The Fly Trap
"The Greenland shark is the bait. Not quite a red herring, and certainly not the reeking bull flesh used at one point as a lure, this enormous, ancient, toxic shark that Morten Strøksnes and his friend Hugo pursue through the seasons in northern Norway is nonetheless a snare and a delusion. The point is not to catch the fish. It's the phantasmagoric journey, both ultra-vivid and laconic, through the history and natural history of a remarkable region, its teeming seas and tough, resourceful locals. Hugo, a painter, mixes his paints from oil harvested from the livers of cod they catch while chasing the great shark. Strøksnes weaves his tale from a dense wool of close observation, fishing yarns, erudition lightly worn, and a helpless, consuming love of the ocean."
– William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days
"With the open-minded inquisitiveness of Charles Darwin and the obsession of Captain Ahab, Morten Strøksnes heads out to sea, chasing a monster of the deep known as the Greenland shark. Every page of Shark Drunk feels like a cabinet of curiosities, filled with head-scratching surprises, nuggets of wisdom, and wondrous insights. Gorgeously written and thoroughly addictive."
– Michael Finkel, author of The Stranger in the Woods
"This is a book about not quite catching a fish – about a monster of a fish, a Greenland shark, that has to be hauled up from the cold deep waters of the mind. The hunt is violent and it's lovely, as terrifying and glittering as the sea itself, and a matter of science, myth, dreams and the practical work of being a fisherman. You sink into the deep waters alongside the hunters and live for a time in the alien world which covers most of our planet, among ancient sharks and vampire squid. It is brutal, scholarly, thoughtful, fascinating and often very beautiful: just like the nature it so wonderfully brings alive. You taste the sea on every page."
– Michael Pye, author of The Edge of the World
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Morten Strøksnes is an award-winning Norwegian writer. After studying in Oslo and Cambridge, Strøksnes embarked on a career as a journalist. He has published eight critically acclaimed books of reportage, essays and literary non-fiction. Shark Drunk was awarded five prizes in Norway when it was first published, including the prestigious Brage Prize for non-fiction.