in which pirates rampage, a princess wins a wrestler's hand, and ghost women with lampreys' teeth drag a man to hell - and in which the members of a shattered family, adrift in a violent world, journey towards a place called home.
'I really am so very, very sorry about this,' he says, in an oddly formal voice... They strike the side of a grain silo. They are travelling at seventy miles per hour.
A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash.
She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world.
When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail...
So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears. A novel that leaps from the modern era to ancient times; a novel that soars, and sails, and burns long and bright; a novel that almost drowns in grief yet swims ashore; in which pirates rampage, a princess wins a wrestler's hand, and ghost women with lampreys' teeth drag a man to hell - and in which the members of a shattered family, adrift in a violent world, journey towards a place called home.
Mark Haddon is one of our most imaginative storytellers, whose work has been read and enjoyed by millions. In his most recent book, The Pier Falls ('Superbly gripping', Sunday Times), he reworked two mythical legends - Ariadne on Naxos and Gawain and the Green Knight - and turned them into startling contemporary stories. In The Porpoise he takes on the epic tale of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, to stunning dramatic effect.
"Wondrous... a violent, all-action thrill ride shuttling between antiquity and the present... just downright brilliant... a transcendant, transporting experience... A helix, a mirror ball, a literary box of tricks... take your pick: this is a full-spectrum pleasure, mixing metafictional razzmatazz with pulse-racing action and a prose style to die for. I'll be staggered if it's not spoken of whenever prizes are mentioned this year" -- Anthony Cummins Observer "A beautifully rendered retelling...[and] a gripping novel that, despite its rollicking plot, never feels relentless, and is often very affecting indeed" -- Jon Day Financial Times "[The Porpoise] races across the oceans: it is a book of thrilling, salt-caked adventures that scintillate like sunlight on the surface of the sea. There are plagues and famines and sword fights with not-quite human adversaries. There are desperate escapes and terrible family separations and dramatic recognitions. It is a breathless, delightful, utterly absorbing read" The Guardian "Compelling, satisfying and moving... Haddon's writing is exquisite, balancing simple storytelling with searing insight" -- Paul Connolly Metro "Told in Haddon's generously telegraphic prose - onparticularly good form here - [...] The Porpoise is a defiantly odd novel, dependent on the fine caul of Haddon's prose to keep together the heavily spiced romantic mixture within... Haunted not just by its direct source but by Ovid and others, the novel exists in a world of old magic, of stories within stories, and webs of allusion that would crumble swiftly if mishandled, but which, here, weave their spell marvellously well" -- Tim Smith-Laing Daily Telegraph "Beguiling...ambitious...bold... Haddon's prose is beautiful, and he is utterly in command of his slippery material... An elegant homage to stories' capacity for endless renewal" -- Claire Allfree Evening Standard "Beautifully written" -- Johanna Thomas-Corr The Times "[A] multi-layered, ambitious novel... [with] an immersive, intricate narrative... Elegant, inventive and thought-provoking" -- Simon Humphreys Mail on Sunday "The Porpoise is lovely, sad, ambitious and admirable... Every age retells, refocuses and interprets the classics. In The Porpoise Mark Haddon has done so in a way that makes us look afresh not only at the story of Pericles but also at storytelling itself" -- Simon Baker Literary Review "An enthralling novel that will sweep you up from the off" -- Isabelle Broom Woman & Home "Beguiling yet unsettling" -- Eithne Farry Daily Mail "A rollicking fantastical narrative" i "A fantastical narrative that involves rampaging pirates, ghost women and princesses...Bold" -- Andrea Martin Heat "Staggeringly ambitious, innovative, beautifully written... The Porpoise has the pace of a really good thriller, but combined with a subtlety and depth that few thrillers possess" -- Pat Barker "A full-throttle blast of storytelling mastery. I read it on the plane in a single sitting at 30,000 feet and enjoyed every second. Gorgeously written and very clever, but also such fun! Ancient and modern overlap and tangle 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. So many pleasures in one book. The Porpoise is a joy to read" -- Max Porter "Mark Haddon cuts right 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 "It's hard to describe just how much tremendous joy and pleasure there is on every page" -- Charlotte Higgins
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