Synopses & Reviews
May 4th, 1970. A week earlier President Nixon has ordered American ground forces into Cambodia to pursue the Vietcong. By the end of the day four students will be shot dead by the National Guards in the grounds of Kent State University. On the other side of the Atlantic, it's a brilliant sunny morning after an April of heavy rain, and at the "Concept House" therapeutic community he has set up in the London suburb of Willesden, maverick psychiatrist Dr Zack Busner has been tricked into joining a decidedly ill advised LSD trip with several of its disturbed residents. Five years later, sitting in a nearby cinema watching Steven Spielberg's Jaws
, Busner realizes the true nature of the events that transpired on that dread-soaked day, when a survivor of the worst disaster in the US Navy's history - the sinking of the USS Indianapolis - came face-to-face with the British Royal Air Force observer on the Enola Gay's mission to bomb Hiroshima.
Set a year before the action of his Booker-shortlisted Umbrella, Will Self's new novel Shark continues its exploration of the complex relationship between human psychopathology and human technological progress.
Like the work of the great high modernists from the 1920s, like Joyce, Woolf and Eliot, there is a kind of chaotic beauty in Selfs unrestricted writing. . . . There is an amazing consistency to his tone and style; he holds the narrative firmly together at all times, however random and complicated the structure of the book may appear. . . . An outstanding work of literature that seeks to question and explore the fundamental components of what constitutes "normal" and "abnormal" behavior in our society. . . . Go read it now. You'll be simultaneously entertained, mesmerized, intellectually stimulated, baffled and laugh your ass off.”NPR Books
[Selfs] text is more ocean than land, a strange, fluid, weightless place where present and past, surface and depth constantly converge, where terrors, both literal and psychic, loom. . . . Its a throwback to modernism, a continuation of the experiments of his literary influences, especially James Joyce and J.G. Ballard. . . . Fans of experimental fiction will likely devour the book and applaud Self for inventing a dark stream of consciousness all his own.”Washington Post
Self writes in a high-modernist, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness style, leaping between sentences, time periods, and perspectives. It can be difficult to hang on, but if, like the titular creature, you keep moving through the verbal bouillabaisse, the reward is a strange, vivid book.”New Yorker
Willfully neglected history, man-made catastrophe, hubrisand, yes, Jawsall circulate through Will Selfs latest novel, Shark, which is determined to stoke our collective memories of humanity at its worst. . . . reflects a respectable urge to capture the mental and social collapse Self sees as a legacy of the world wars . . . Self wants to grab our heads firmly, turn us toward the mushroom cloud, make us look at the bodies Claude claimed to see within it, and never flatter ourselves that our capacity for self-destruction is distant history or somebody elses problem. . . . one of [Selfs] most compassionate and earnest books.”New York Times Book Review
You will be tossed about in the roiling ocean of words that make up the stream-of-consciousness narrative Self favors . . . the riptide force of Selfs postmodern brilliance will suck you in. . . . Shark is as trippy and fanciful as falling down a rabbit hole . . . pushes me out of my comfort zone. . . Persistence pays off because Shark will stir up a reading frenzy.”Chicago Tribune
"Intellectually dazzling . . . Shark confirms that Self is the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation, a writer whose formidable intellect is mercilessly targeted on the limits of the cerebral as a means of understanding. Yes, he makes you think, but he also insists that you feel."Guardian
A portrait of madness and sanity in the 20th century, tracing the effects of the machine age as well as the information age on peoples stubbornly fallible psyche. . . . Yet the apparently anarchic writing is moderated by careful plotting and sympathetic character development. . . . for all his newfound seriousness of intent Self remains a superb comic writer. . . . An intoxicating experience. Selfs powerful command of language animates the intense prose while his dry wit is given a freer rein than in Umbrella.”Financial Times
Self's sentences move with sharky verve: a playful, allusive, associative flow that traces frantic minds connecting the dots between past and present, ideals and reality. . . . Shark will challenge and disturb, exasperate and entertain. Self's prose demands real attention, but is never less than sharp, biting and incisive. Prepare to be eaten whole.”Independent
Shark has no time for pause and no space for blankness, churning up clumps of words and polyrhythmic phrases and sounds at a breakneck pace. . . . [Shark is] an attempt to offer unfettered access to the minds of the books characters. . . . here is a hunk of modernism that poignantly, beautifully, and, it seems, genuinely render mental states of sanity and insanity while smudging the gradations in between.”Full Stop
"A maddening, uncompromising, serious, self-indulgent, and beautiful work . . . comes as close to capturing the frightening bad trip of modern life as any book in recent memory."Publishers Weekly (boxed review)
"A truly wonderful novel . . . the language feels urgent and necessary . . . It is an exciting, mesmerizing, wonderfully disturbing book. Go with it, and it'll suck you under."Daily Telegraph
"Highly enjoyable, vividly, even profoundly imagined. Self is creating something rather grand."Sunday Times
"Breathtaking and dazzling. An exhilarating tour-de-force ... immersing the reader in a trippy Odyssey.”Daily Mail
A journey of language, of character, of unsettling fragmented narratives, of tricks, twists and turns. Shark will latch on to you and pull you under if you're not carefuland that's a good thing.”Lit Reactor
About the Author
Will Self is the author of six short-story collections, a book of novellas, eight novels, and six collections of journalism. His work has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction. His latest novel, Umbrella, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.