The 'Book of the Fair' of the 2019 London Book Fair, with rights sold in over 40 languages, a memoir of fishing for eels, a close yet distant father-son relationship and a riveting journey into the story of the world's most mysterious fish.
Patrik Svensson (b. 1972) is an arts and culture journalist at Sydsvenskan newspaper. He lives with his family in Malmoe in southern Sweden. The Gospel of the Eels is his first book.
Svensson's prose surges, eel-like, from languid to wriggling up
your arm . . . There is a stillness to Svensson's writing that
perfectly suits [both] the eel and his enigmatic father . . .
This is a book about tenderness, slime and savagery . . . The power
of the [father-son] relationships is in the unsaid. * Daily
In this lovely, thoughtful blend of natural science and memoir, Patrik Svensson elevates the European eel . . . to an almost mythical status and interweaves accounts of its history, life cycle and cultural significance with stories of his own relationship with his road-paver father . . . We must hope this marvellous book is not the eel's eulogy. * Mail on Sunday *
This is one of those special books . . . Even if it were only a book about eels, it would be wonderful . . . Svensson is such a good writer . . . I am not sure I like eels, but I loved this book. * Sunday Times *
Captivating . . . The Gospel of the Eels is, in the end, not really about eels but about life itself . . . Mr. Svensson mixes chapters about the eel's natural history - or, rather, the history of clumsy human attempts to understand it - with finely observed autobiographical vignettes devoted to his own childhood memories of eel-fishing with his father. * Wall Street Journal *
Drawing from literature, science and his own studies, Svensson inspires readers to see eels in a whole new way. * Los Angeles Times *
Svensson's book, like its subject, is a strange beast: a creature of metamorphosis, a shape-shifter that moves among realms. It is a book of natural history, and a memoir about a son and his father. It is also an exploration of literature and religion and custom, and what it means to live in a world full of questions we can't always answer. * New Yorker *
For weeks after reading I found myself cornering people at parties to obliterate them with a machine-gun spray of eel facts . . . It is a charming and itch-scratching contribution to the eel canon - less an analysis of eels than a meditation on their glories. If you don't think of yourself as someone who might enjoy meditating on eel glory, well, I didn't either, and here I am transcribing my encounter for publication. * New York magazine *