On Our Shelves Now
From the Whitbread and Los Angeles Times Prize-winning author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a stunningly ambitious, fantastical novel about the theft of female agency by rapacious men and the ways in which archetypal stories can warp history and the present
Mark Haddon's breathtaking novel begins with a harrowing plane crash: Maja, the pregnant wife of the unimaginably wealthy Philippe, is killed, but their daughter Angelica survives. Philippe's obsession with the girl's safety morphs into something sinister and grotesque as she grows into a beautiful teen. A young man named Darius, visiting Philippe with a business proposition, encounters Angelica and intuits their secret -- he decides to rescue her, but the attempt goes awry and he flees England by sea.
This contemporary story mirrors the ancient legend of Antiochus, whose love for the daughter of his dead wife was discovered by the adventurer Appolinus of Tyre. The tale appeared in many forms through the ages; Apollinus becoming the swashbuckling Pericles in Shakespeare's eponymous play. In The Porpoise, as Angelique comes to terms with a life imprisoned on her father's estate, Darius morphs into Pericles, voyaging through a mythic world. In a bravura feat of storytelling, Haddon recounts his many exploits in thrilling fashion, mining the meaning of the old legends while creating parallels with the monstrous modern world Angelica inhabits. The language is rich and gorgeous; the conjured worlds are perfectly imagined; the plot moves forward at a ferocious pace.
But as much as Haddon plays with myth and meaning, his themes speak deeply to the current moment. As profound as it is entertaining, The Porpoise is a major literary achievement by an author whose myriad talents are on full, vivid display.
About the Author
Mark Haddon is the author of the bestselling novels The Red House and A Spot of Bother. His novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and is the basis for the Tony Award–winning play. He is the author of a collection of poetry, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, has written and illustrated numerous children’s books, and has won awards for both his radio dramas and his television screenplays. He teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and lives in Oxford, England.
"Staggeringly ambitious, innovative, beautifully written. . .The Porpoise has the pace of a really good thriller, combined with a subtlety and depth that few thrillers possess."
--Pat Barker, author of The Silence of the Girls and the Booker Prize-winning The Ghost Road
"A full-throttle blast of storytelling mastery. Ancient and modern overlap in exhilarating ways, it's like romping through a literary Netflix: an episode of something historical and bloody, then something slick and contemporary, then something really weird and unnerving. . .The Porpoise is a joy to read.
--Max Porter, author of the International Dylan Thomas Prize-winning Grief is the Thing With Feathers
"Mark Haddon cuts down to the grittiness of humanity every time he writes. The Porpoise is a beautiful, unputdownable, ancient tangle with its own sweeping tides and dangerous depths."
--Daisy Johnson, author of the Booker Prize finalist Everything Under
"An artfully crafted story of layered lives. . .Haddon’s ambitious tale captures the ethos of tragic Shakespearean vibrations and the tangle of lives that magically intersect. The prose is exquisite and elevates this story that blends reality and mythology to great effect."