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The Merman by Carl-Johan Vallgren

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Out at sea collecting contraband cigarettes some Swedish lads catch a sea monster. They seem to keep him not as a local curiosity, as one might expect, but purely as an object to torment and abuse. Contrasted against their sport is the exploits of the school bully and his gang; again lads just bent on tormenting the underdog. They pick on a backward boy whose mother is an alcoholic and father in and out of prison. He has an older sister he relies upon who spends her time trying to protect him. She also discovers the sea monster ‘merman’ who telepathically communicates with her. How she tries to save both it and her brother makes for riveting reading. A strange and wonderful story.

If you like Carl-Johan Vallgren you might also like to read books by Gregory Norminton, Glen David Gold and Neal Stephenson.


The Merman by Carl-Johan Vallgren

Nella and her brother Robert live a difficult life with their mother and father in a small town on the west coast of Sweden. Robert is bullied at school, and Nella has to resort to debt and petty crime to pay off his tormentors. When she turns to her friend Tommy for help, her suspicions are aroused by the mysterious comings and goings of his brothers at their dilapidated boat house. But when she uncovers the reason behind their enigmatic behaviour, her life is opened to the realities of a mindboggling secret. The Merman is an exhilarating and beautiful book about sibling love and betrayal - and what happens when the mundane collides with the strange and wonderful.


'An intense little gem'
Dagens Nyheter

'Worthy of Stephen King on a good day'

'Related to Frankenstein's monster, the Frog Prince and Kafka's insect... The Merman is a fairy tale for adults'

'Carl-Johan Vallgren has written a substantial novel whose most poignant scenes tear and claw at you'

'A bitterly harsh and beautiful tale of a brother and sister's love for each other'
Svenska Dagbladet

About the Author

Carl-John Vallgren is the author of eight novels. His The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot won the Swedish August Prize for novel of the year. He lives in Stockholm.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Carl-Johan Vallgren

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Literary Fiction
Relationship Stories
Thriller / Suspense



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