Steven Hall (4 stars)

The Raw Shark Texts (Canongate)


There are not many authors who can say their first novel had such an effect on Nicole Kidman she begged to be allowed to star in a movie adaptation. That’s the impact Steven Hall’s debut is having. Already hailed as an ‘instant classic’, it is seeped in imagination, unpredictability and ready-made cine-magic. Taking more unexpected turns than a wonky shopping trolley, the story starts out with one Eric Sanderson awaking to realise he’s lost his memory, or (as he discovers through letters from his former self) that it’s actually been taken. Not by someone, but something. Something that, somehow, proves there’s a missing link between The Matrix and Jaws. And that something’s appetite is far from sated.

Hall’s prose is largely quite formulaic, but his imagery really strikes. Using metaphors and simple illustrations, he drives home the themes: adventure, myth, love and (best of all) good ol’-fashioned peril. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the text . . .

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