The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway Pages: 127
First published: 1952
The book: This is the story of an old Cuban fisherman who has failed to catch any fish for eighty-four consecutive days. In an attempt to break this cycle of bad luck, he ventures out further into the ocean than before. Far from home and in deep water, he hooks an enormous Marlin and his battle begins.
You might like it because: Whilst it’s simply a story of one man’s battle to land a giant fish, Hemmingway brings to life the visceral nature of the fisherman’s struggle against the Marlin, and nature itself. The story feels so real that you can’t help but become vested in the fisherman and his endeavor.
What did other people say?
“It is a tale superbly told and in the telling Ernest Hemingway uses all the craft his hard, disciplined trying over so many years has given him.” – The New York Times (1952)
Awards & Recognition:
1953 Pulitzer Prize
In 1954, Hemmingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “…for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence he has exerted on contemporary style.”
How quickly will you get into the book? The first 25 pages set the scene and provide backstory on the key characters. I found I was gradually pulled into the fisherman’s battle.
You might not like it because: Reading about a man catching a fish, albeit a giant one, may not appeal to everyone.
What might you read next?
You could read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, a book The Old Man and the Sea has sometimes been compared to.
Or read about a young girl’s battle to prove herself, which involves another creature from the ocean: The Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera
Alternatively, read a novel about fishermen set in Scotland: The Silver Darlings, by Neil M. Gunn.