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The Swordfish and the Star

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Gavin Knight has caught the stories of the Cornish fishermen - and their difficult, dramatic existence at the end of our land

About the Author

Gavin Knight's first book, Hood Rat, about gun and gang crime in the UK's cities, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Crime Writer's Association Non-fiction Dagger in 2012. To research it, he spent two years with criminals, frontline police units and gang members from the inner cities of Britain. His work has appeared in publications including The Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Prospect, Newsweek, New Statesman and Esquire; and he has appeared on BBC, CNN, ITN, Channel Four News and Sky News. This is his second book.


"An alternative perspective, telling the stories of the fishermen who work on this treacherous stretch of coast, tales gathered over two years of interviews, many conducted in the Swordfish and Star of the title" -- Tom Robbins * Financial Times Books of the Year * "A terrific new book about a hard and dangerous way of life" * Esquire, Book of the Year * "Knight has gone in search of old smells and danger and found them in spades. There are extraordinarily evocative stories here, of the mad bravado of scarred, de-fingered fishermen and the stoicism of their women... As a cross-section of west Cornish lives, a celebration of brave eccentricity and a prose illustration of the way those lives overlap and interrelate, The Swordfish and the Star takes some beating" -- Patrick Gale * Guardian * "Knight recounts fascinating detail, but also shows a novelist's skill in painting a vivid picture of real Cornwall and real Cornish people: Shane Meadows meets The Perfect Storm" * Esquire * "[Knight] is as adept with words as his hero Nutty Noah the Cadgwith ring-netter is with a shoal of pilchards ... exhilarating" -- Tom Fort * Literary Review * "The Swordfish and the Star gets top rating for its often searing honesty and its portrayal of fallibility in a harsh, unforgiving world... a terrific read... remarkable" -- Des Hannigan * Western Morning News, Devon * "The reading public has become interested in the social anthropology of our relationship with nature and a slew of authors has explored the interdependence of people and the natural world. The best give us a language to read the world around us... This helps explain what's different and admirable about The Swordfish and the Star... Knight does immersive journalism. This account of the lives of the fishing community on both sides of the Penwith Peninsula is driven by personal anecdote... the obsessive, personal tangle with the sea in search of fishy riches, the fortunes made, the lives lost, the courage and recklessness" -- Will Cohu * Oldie * "A hugely refreshing dunk in the ocean ... fascinating" -- Roger Cox * Scotland on Sunday * "A genuine and powerful insight into the lives of people who brave the sea for a living" * Choice Magazine * "An immersive account... It is an eye-opening, dramatic and poignant account of life on Cornwall's most dangerous coast and the people who fish it." * Western Morning News * "The Swordfish and the Star is a fine, and at times really beautiful, book. It has a tough no-nonsense prose style that I very much admire. A style that entirely fits the lives of the people it is about, people who live tough lives where the land meets the sea at the far end of Cornwall. There are too few books that tell, so respectfully and truthfully, the stories of the men and women that make a living from the land and the sea" -- James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life "This is a marvellous and humane book about Cornwall -- and unusual: a travel book with no 'I' -- rather the traveller as a silent observer and patient listener. It is Cornish life as told by its people -- fishermen, farmers, publicans, singers, brawlers, historians, drunks, old-timers, newcomers and even D H Lawrence and King Arthur" -- Paul Theroux "Wonderfully evocative, from the title to the last line. Knight has condensed the detailed tales and tragedies from decades of fishing, to produce a real insight into those who brave the sea. Full of brotherhood and triumph, loss and sadness" -- Matt Lewis, author of Last Man Off

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