** BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week **
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. A love song to the sea, in all its mystery, hardship, wonder and life-giving majesty.
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. 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.
Full of personal anecdotes, facts on marine life and life in general along coastal Norway, and about the hunt for a big fish ... So, the book is much like fishing I guess — it’s not about the catch, it’s about just being there.
A description of what happens to dead whales gives way to an impressively thorough history of the Aasjord family’s cos-liver-oil business… Shark Drunk does contain plenty of interesting stuff.
Stroksnes’s sidelong approach to science is beguiling… There are moments of adventure… but the triumph of this book is it descriptions… Its beauty, undemanding science and soothing, musing qualities have made the book a bestseller in Norway and beyond.
A fine book. A hymn of love to the sea. The story of a friendship. And a sad chronicle of so much that is wrong about our relationship with the oceans. Deserves to be read widely.
Mr Stroksnes beautifully describes the midnight sun, majestic fjords and moody stretches of sea, the changing light and the peaks that rise up out of the water, as well as the Moskstraumen, a system of whirlpools long feared by sailors… Putting "shark-drunk" man into perspective as the real threat to the ocean is one of the many threads Mr Stroksnes has pulled together in a narrative that takes in history and philosophy, mythology and folklore, from Norway's fishing past to science and the cosmos. Rather than an account of two men trying to catch a shark, it is really a homage to the sea and a call to arms to protect the ecosystem that humans treat so abysmally yet rely on so much.