Eloquence of the Sardine: Extraordinary Encounters Beneath the Sea (Hardcover)
This engaging piece of narrative nonfiction, originally published in Europe, blends the author’s personal story with captivating and accessible chunks of marine science—it’s this year’s The Book of Eels. But where that book focused solely on the European eel, this one takes its titular sardine as a springboard, using the unassuming species as a thread that loosely connects a range of colorful anecdotes and fascinating histories. It almost reads like a greatest hits album of incredible ocean facts. Upon finishing, you’re unlikely to look at your seafood platter in quite the same way—and may even be less motivated to order it at all. And you’ll have a new appreciation for the simple idea at the heart of the book: That the ocean is full of stories, if only we stop and listen.— Noah
If we were able to listen under water, what would we hear? What would we learn? How would it change us?
With erudition and charm, marine scientist and orator Bill François takes us on a deep dive into the secret lives of the world’s aquatic creatures, from musical whales and immortal eels to the cod that discovered America and the herring that almost caused a military conflict —to name but a few. We hear the songs of seahorses and scallops, eavesdrop on the conversations of lobsters, and swim in the glow of the fluorescent jellyfish.
A poetic blend of ancient myths, modern science, and storytelling through the ages, Eloquence of the Sardine is an invitation and guide to a dreamlike underwater world where the legends are often more believable than the incredible reality.
This is nature writing at its best —informative, captivating, and accessible, with a personal angle, about an endlessly fascinating and still mysterious subject.
A seafood platter or a day at the beach will never be the same.
About the Author
Bill François is a physicist passionate about the marine world. He studied at the ENS school in Paris and then devoted himself to research on hydrodynamics. The eloquence contests he won, like the Le Grand Oral on France 2, propelled him to become passionate about his other world: that of words. He mixes these universes to relay the importance of protecting our oceans.
Antony Shugaar is a writer and translator. Aside from Giorgio Faletti’s A Pimp’s Notes, his recent translations include books by Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Silvia Avallone, Nanni Balestrini (with an NEA translation fellowship), Fabio Bartolomei, Massimo Carlotto, Giancarlo De Cataldo, Diego De Silva, Marco Mancassola, Gianni Rodari, and Paolo Sorrentino. He is the author of Coast to Coast and I Lie for a Living and the coauthor, with the late Gianni Guadalupi, of Discovering America and Latitude Zero. He has published with the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and online with the New York Times, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about translation for the University of Virginia Press.
"[The author's enchantment with and affection for the watery world about which he writes radiates from every page. His fervor is infectious and rather refreshing."--The Boston Globe
"With an elegant mix of storytelling, science, and humor, Francoise delights us with his infectious love of life beneath the waves. These aquatic reveries pry open the oceans’ mysteries to reveal pearls within."--Jonathan Balcombe, New York Times bestselling author of Super Fly and What a Fish Knows
"Delightfully told in stunningly beautiful language, Eloquence of the Sardine is a rare book combining deep scientific insight and first-hand experience with the sheer poetry of the sea. Take the plunge, immerse yourself, feel the beauty, and be amazed!"--Carl Safina, New York Times bestselling author of Beyond Words and Becoming Wild
"We live on a planet that is mostly covered in oceans, but we hardly know the stories contained in them. In the tradition of Rachel Carson, Bill Francois reminds us that these stories come from many voices -- lonely whales, educated octopuses, and insatiable tuna -- if we're willing to listen. With lyricism and honesty, Francois speaks for these voices, whether they live far out on the blue water or show up on our dinner plates. The stories in this book will convince you that these voices are all worth knowing, saving, and celebrating."--Nick Pyenson, author of Spying on Whales
"In Eloquence of the Sardine, Bill François guides us on a fascinating journey to reveal dimensions beneath the seas rarely seen by most of us. With a talent as a storyteller and the insights of a scientist, he introduces us to a gallery of undersea inhabitants and considers lessons we can learn from them on the future of our oceans. Weaving personal stories with physics theory, history, and parables, Eloquence of the Sardine is an enchanting and insightful exploration of life in the underwater world of our rivers, seas, and oceans."--Vint Virga, author of The Soul of All Living Creatures
"Full of engrossing stories, gentle humor, and wit, Bill Francois's eye-opening exploration of the underwater world takes the reader on a fascinating scientific and philosophical journey into the secret lives of fishes. Eloquence of the Sardine is exactly that: eloquent, as well as revelatory and highly readable."--Marc Bekoff, co-author of A Dog's World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans
"An illuminating debut collection...François’s tone is conversational, and his passion and excitement are contagious...a fun deep dive into marine life."--Publishers Weekly