The Kings family has lived on Loosewood Island for three hundred years, blessed with the bounty of the sea. But for the Kings, this blessing comes with a curse: the loss of every firstborn son. Now, Woody Kings, the leader of the island's lobster fishing community and the family patriarch, teeters on the throne, and Cordelia, the oldest of Woody's three daughters, stands to inherit the crown. To do so, however, she must defend her island from meth dealers from the mainland while navigating sibling rivalry and the vulnerable nature of her own heart when she falls in love with her sternman.
Inspired by King Lear, The Lobster Kings is the story of Cordelia's struggle to maintain her island's way of life in the face of danger from offshore and the rich, looming, mythical legacy of her family's namesake.
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Cordelia King has grown up with the legend of her ancestor, Brumfitt Kings, a lobster fisherman who later came to some renown for his paintings of Loosewood Island in Maine, which generations of Kings have called home. While Brumfitt, who launched the legend 300 years ago, had a bounty of lobster to work with, catches have been dwindling and neighboring towns' meth problems are fast encroaching upon Loosewood as well. Cordelia inherits the business from her father, Woody, and tries to keep it afloat.
Woody and his three daughters allow for references to King Lear, which seem forced after a while. Just as he did in his debut, Touch, Alexi Zentner works ample touches of magical realism in this novel as well. Unfortunately these little inspired flashes are not enough to rescue the story that borders on melodrama.
"His fusion of myth and mission, fury and beauty, as well as the palpable sense of place in this unique corner of the world add up to a memorable tale." - Publishers Weekly
"Zentner spends a good deal of time setting up the family mythology and echoing Shakespeare's King Lear, but when the fishing wars heat up, so does the plot. With its strong female lead and its evocative setting, this could well be Zentner's breakout book." - Booklist
"An ugly turf war between Maine lobstermen is almost eclipsed by family mythology in this slow-moving second novel from Zentner (Touch, 2011)...That corny ancient curse is an awkward fit with contemporary shenanigans." - Kirkus
"Confirms what Touch already prophesied: Alexi Zentner is one of the greatest literary architects and mythmakers working today." - Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife
"The Lobster Kings is a powerhouse of a novel. Alexi Zentner proves himself to be a writer of the first rank with this story of one woman's determination to carry on her family's legacy in the face of the encroaching pressures of modernity and the strictures of a patriarchal culture." - Ben Fountain, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"With a knowing nod to King Lear, The Lobster Kings follows a patriarch's fading powers and a dynasty's uncertain future in the face of a changing world. As in his wonderful debut, Touch, Alexi Zentner gives us a family saga that contains the origin story of a magical, once timeless place where the past and present must inevitably collide." - Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster and Emily, Alone
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Alexi Zentner is the author of Touch, which was published in a dozen countries. A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, Touch was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award, the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Zentner's fiction has been featured in The Atlantic and Tin House. He lives in Ithaca, New York, with his family.
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