Reviews

  • "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 extraordinary force and vividness of Haddon's prose ensure that The Porpoise reads [...] as a continually unfolding demonstration of the transporting power of stories... This is language that knows how to do things: sail a ship, make a gold buckle, negotiate the tides of the Thames. It's a stunningly effective combination of the quotidian and the mythic that pins impossibility to the page"

    Justine Jordan, Guardian
  • "Compelling, satisfying and moving... Haddon's writing is exquisite, balancing simple storytelling with searing insight"

    Paul Connolly, Metro
  • "The Porpoise is terrifically violent, with a bright, innocent ferocity … Haddon wants to restore agency to the female characters sidelined by the Antiochus legend. This could feel like a condescending attempt to end up on the right of history, but doesn’t"

    The New Yorker
  • "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
  • "[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
  • "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
  • "Daring... extraordinary... 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 — foam smashing across a boat’s deck; a breakfast of olives and barley bread soaked in wine; a woman trapped alive in a coffin — all but waft and dance off the page... The Porpoise is a provocative and deeply interesting work"

    New York Times

About the Author