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Staff Pick
The Porpoise

The Porpoise

Current price: $16.95
Publication Date: May 12th, 2020
Charter Books
On hand, as of Nov 30 3:37am
(Fiction - General)
On Our Shelves Now

Staff Reviews

— Steve

This book stayed with me for months after finishing. A modern re-telling of Shakespeare's "Pericles" but also a testament to the power of fables and myths in overcoming trauma. The ending was simultaneously devastating and triumphant. Perfect for book groups!

— Steve


In a bravura feat of storytelling, Mark Haddon calls upon narratives ancient and modern to tell the story of Angelica, a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship with her father. When a young man named Darius discovers their secret, he is forced to escape on a boat bound for the Mediterranean. To his surprise he finds himself travelling backwards over two thousand years to a world of pirates and shipwrecks, of plagues and miracles and angry gods. Moving seamlessly between the past and the present, Haddon conjures the worlds of Angelica and her would-be savior in thrilling fashion. As profound as it is entertaining, The Porpoise is a stirring and endlessly inventive novel from one of our finest storytellers.

About the Author

Mark Haddon is the author of the bestselling novels The Red House and A Spot of Bother and of the story collection The Pier Falls. 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, and has won awards for both his radio dramas and his television screenplays. His play, Polar Bears, was produced by the Donmar Warehouse in 2010. He lives in Oxford, England.

Praise for The Porpoise

“Electrifying. . . . As thrilling as it is thoughtful.” —The Washington Post

“Perfect. . . . I found myself repeatedly checking the cover, making sure the book was written by a human and not an AI designed to compose the best novel this side of the 20th century.” —Randy Rosenthal, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Haddon’s writing is beautiful, almost hallucinatory at times, and his descriptions so rich and lush and specific that smells and sights and tastes and sounds . . . all but waft and dance off the page.” —The New York Times
“[A] magical journey . . . readers will not come out of it untouched.” —NPR
“Magic and myth meld in this luminous . . . retelling of the drama Pericles that resonates anew in our own divisive era.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“Compulsively readable. . . . Haddon writes with wrenching beauty about how the world inflicts itself on the disadvantaged.” —Time
“A breathless, delightful, utterly absorbing read. . . . A book of thrilling, salt‑caked adventures that scintillate like sunlight on the surface of the sea.” —Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian
“A writer of acute precision. . . . [Haddon] has spun a fantastical yarn.” —The Boston Globe
“Dizzyingly original.” —The New Yorker
“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 Ghost Road, winner of the Booker Prize
“Wondrous. . . . A transcendent, transporting experience. . . . A full-spectrum pleasure, mixing metafictional razzmatazz with pulse-racing action and a prose style to die for.” —The Observer
“Haddon deftly adapts [an] ancient myth for the 21st century to illuminate a timeless, ugly truth about how the violent appetites of men strip women of their agency.” —Esquire
“A beautifully rendered retelling.” —Financial Times
“A full-throttle blast of storytelling mastery. . . . The Porpoise is a joy to read.” —Max Porter, author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize
“Haddon’s glittering tapestry of a novel skilfully redeploys the structures of Pericles’ source material. . . . [He] gives voice to a character who, in Shakespeare, receives no more than a passing mention, and in doing so, shows the transcendent power of stories to heal and restore.” —The Independent
“Effortlessly inventive and absorbing.” —New Statesman
“A rollicking adventure story. . . . A stunningly effective combination of the quotidian and the mythic.” —Justine Jordan, The Guardian
“Haddon cuts down to the grittiness of humanity every time he writes. . . . A beautiful, unputdownable ancient tangle with its own sweeping tides and dangerous depths.” —Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under, finalist for the Man Booker Prize
“Beguiling. . . . An elegant homage to stories’ capacity for endless renewal, and to the ways even the oldest still surge through our lives.” —Evening Standard