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Fiction Literary

The Lobster Kings

by (author) Alexi Zentner

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
May 2014
Literary, Sagas, Sea Stories
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price

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From the internationally acclaimed author of Touch, praised as "an arresting debut" (National Post) and "a haunting, beguiling and beautifully imagined story" (Winnipeg Free Press), comes a powerful family saga steeped in the legends of the ocean.

The Kings family has lived on Loosewood Island for three hundred years, blessed with the bounty of the sea. But for the Kings, this blessing comes with a curse: the loss of every first-born son. Now, Woody Kings, the leader of the island's lobster fishing community and the family patriarch, teeters on the throne, and Cordelia, the oldest of Woody's three daughters, stands to inherit the crown. To do so, however, she must defend her island against meth dealers from the mainland, while navigating sibling rivalry and the vulnerable nature of her own heart when she falls in love with her sternman. Inspired by Shakespeare's King Lear, The Lobster Kings is the story of Cordelia's struggle to maintain her island's way of life in the face of danger from offshore, and the rich, looming, mythical legacy of her family's namesake.

About the author

Contributor Notes

ALEXI ZENTNER's fiction has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Narrative Magazine, Tin House, Glimmer Train, The Southern Review, Orion Magazine and other publications. His short story "Touch" was featured in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008 where it was chosen by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as a jury favourite. His short story "Trapline" was awarded the 2008 Narrative Prize and named to the Best American Short Stories 2009 list of "100 Other Distinguished Stories of 2008." His short stories "Touch" and "The Adjuster" were also selected for "special mention" in the 2008 Pushcart Prize anthology. Touch was published in spring 2011 in the USA by W.W. Norton, and in the UK by Chatto & Windus. Touch will also be published in Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Korea, Brazil, Denmark and Poland. Alexi Zentner was born in Kitchener, Ontario, and currently lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and 2 daughters.

Editorial Reviews

LONGLISTED 2015 – International DUBLIN Literary Award

"So big on legend, rich in style and crowded with the kind of people who simultaneously seduce you and tear at the foundations of your understanding, it makes you want to drop your life, call the movers and buy a one-way ticket to Zentner's universe. The Lobster Kings confirms what Touch already prophesied: Alexi Zentner is one of the greatest literary architects and mythmakers working today."
—Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife
The Lobster Kings is a powerhouse of a novel. Alexi Zentner proves himself to be a writer of the first rank with this story of one woman’s determination to carry on her family’s legacy in the face of the encroaching pressures of modernity and the strictures of a patriarchal culture. The bold and endearingly stubborn Cordelia Kings is a protagonist we can root for, flaws and all, as she struggles to reconcile the past with the present.”
—Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
"Just as compelling as the dragons, mermaids and selkies that may inhabit the waters of Loosewood Island are its year-round residents, besieged by tourists, art historians and drug smugglers. With a knowing nod to Lear, The Lobster Kings follows a patriarch's fading powers and a dynasty's uncertain future in the face of a changing world. As in his wonderful debut, Touch, Alexi Zentner gives us a family saga that contains the origin story of a magical, once timeless place where the past and present must inevitably collide."
—Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster and Emily, Alone
“Alexi Zentner’s The Lobster Kings is that rare tale that has everything you could possibly want—mystery, mythology, poetry, ACTION and heart. It’s a marvel of a book by a writer working at the height of his literary powers.”
—Alison Pick, author of Far to Go
“This masterfully written book is many things: a heartbreaking family saga, a myth-enshrouded ghost story, a thickly calloused ode to work and to art—not to mention a pulse-pounding mystery. Alexi Zentner commands both the malevolence and the magnificence of the natural world like no writer I know.”
—Michael Christie, author of The Beggar's Garden


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