The Weaver Fish is one of those books that’s difficult to put into a neat box. It’s fictional non-fiction, which reads like non-fiction for the first third (including footnotes), and a crime thriller for the final two thirds which weaves in things you’ve learnt from earlier in the book.
It took me a while to get into this, partly because I’d been reading a lot of non-fiction and wanted a break and the first section of this has a very non-fiction style. But mainly I think this is just a book that takes a while to go into. The first third seems like a series of inter-related, though sometimes seemingly not at all related, short (fictional) non-fiction stories. And then, out of nowhere, the final two-thirds are a more straightforward crime thriller, but with more academic, mostly fictional, footnotes about linguistics, ecology, and maths.
I am certain I have a missed a lot in this book. Some of the in-jokes are obvious, like the main character who, as one strand of his academic work, has created a new theory of dreams, and is called Edvard ‘Tossentern’. But I suspect that if I was more familiar with, and paid a bit more attention to, some of the mathematical theory I’d find another layer. If I had the be-botheredness to spend time on it, I have no doubt that there’s something hidden in the fictional index and acknowledgements.
I love the imagery and concept of the weaver fish and the condors (which I won’t describe so I don’t give them away). I also really liked how it dealt with Edvard coming back after being presumed dead, and how he struggled to reintegrate into his old life –
Yes, he was back, but not to reinhabit that imperfect silhouette in a seamless return to his past. He was back, and he was a newcomer.
At times, the book felt like it was trying a bit hard, and, often, the hand of the author was clearly visible in a bad way. The thriller part of the book feels like it relies heavily on coincidence, even though it doesn’t any more than many other crime thrillers, just because of the links with everything you learn in the first part.
It’s not a book that’s for everyone, and I think you’ll get the most out of it if you have at least a little scientific literacy. But, at the same time, it’s so unlike anything else I’ve read that I think it’s worth having a go even if you don’t feel science is for you. It won’t make sense in the first few chapters, but persevere, the weaver fish and the giant condor will show themselves to you in time.
I received a free copy of The Weaver Fish from Aardvark Bureau in exchange for an honest review.