The Swallowed Man

By Megan Thomas

This is the shiny new novella by Edward Carey, published in early November by Gallic Books, and it’s weird, dark, twisted and funny. A book everyone needs to forget the pretty dire year we’ve had. As you might have guessed from my seaside snaps above, I couldn’t choose a favourite because photographing a phone is odd but I’m reading more digital stuff because of how much reading I need to do for my new podcast. I actually liked the last one the most but it’s like a nautical game of Where’s Wally so it got bumped to the back. But more relevantly, you’ve probably guessed that the book has a seaside theme.

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The plot takes place largely at sea, as it is a reimagining of the story of Pinocchio from the perspective of Gepetto and his time spent inside the shark that swallowed him. If you didn’t know better, you would swear Edward must have spent time inside a big old fish himself, because there is just so much realism in his character’s painful spirals of emotion and the relatable ways he struggles to stay sane surrounded by so much darkness, wallowing in his guilt, his past, his fear and his loneliness.

I recently interviewed Edward on my new podcast, Babble, and he is just as delightful and eccentric as his books, if not more. If his character made a paintbrush from his beard to keep him sane in the cavernous fishy belly, then know that Edward made one at home to check it was possible first. He’s also illustrated the story himself, and I had quite forgotten the total unadulterated thrill that comes with a book with cool pictures. Why do all adult novels not have drawings again? Who made that decision? I’d like to speak to a manager.

It’s a quick read and allows you to slip out of reality for a bit. Who wouldn’t want that right now?


BUY THE BOOK: Waterstones | Amazon
Disclaimer: I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please get in touch if your preferred online platform is not listed here – I’ll see what I can do!

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