The Shell Collector

The Shell Collector

4.07 (4,860 ratings by Goodreads)
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The showstopping debut from the author of the #1 Sunday Times bestseller ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE A blind man spends his days roaming the beaches of Kenya collecting shells, classifying them by feeling their whorls, spines and folds in his fingers. A young woman discovers that she can explore the inner world of an animal's mind by touching its freshly dead body. A refugee from Liberia, who cannot escape the horrors that he has witnessed, finds salvation in the clandesitne act of burying the hearts of beached whales. In The Shell Collector Antony Doerr illuminates both the riotous dangers of the natural world and the rocky terrain of the human more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 126 x 198 x 14mm | 240.4g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Flamingo
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0007146981
  • 9780007146987
  • 29,028

Review quote

'Extraordinary' Guardian 'Exquisite' The Times 'A show-stopping debut, as close to faultless as any writer could wish for' L A Times 'I can think of very few authors who can put together a sentence with such ecstasy, whose words sing with music and such sheer rapture at what they embody' The Times 'Doerr's prose dazzles from the very beginning' New York Times 'Unforgettable - not so much a book of short stories as a book of short myths' Elizabeth Gilbert (author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE)show more

Review Text

This is a finely honed collection by a new author, still in his 20s, who hails from Idaho. The shell collector of the title is a blind hermit who has retreated from his life as a professor and writer to live near an African lagoon and pursue his vocation of finding and identifying shells. We are first introduced to him at his sink, scrubbing limpets, before he goes out reluctantly to meet a pair of overweight tabloid reporters from the US. They've come to winkle out his amazing story: how he uses 'cone' shells to heal people from disease. It all started, we learn, 'when a malarial Seattle-born Buddhist named Nancy was stung by a cone shell' in his kitchen. Gradually, delicately, Doerr draws out the shell collector's entire life: the opthalmologist who led him to his first spit of beach; his first shell find, a mouse cowry, brown-spotted and tiger-striped at its base; his period of crewing in the tropics; the existence of a son, Josh, who airmails a letter every month, and one day, by surprise, splashes into the lagoon. In this, as in the other stories, Doerr makes vivid use of elements of the natural world to create a landscape in which everything seems to be quivering on the brink of movement. With a few deft words, he draws sharp and evocative word pictures, summoning a fairground ('the smells of fried dough, caramel and cinammon, the flap-flapping of tents, a carousel plinking out music-box songs') or the chill of deepest winter ('he showed her a pair of dormant frogs buried in frozen mud, their blood crystallised until spring'). This collection of complex and assured stories is sure to win him many admirers. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr has won numerous prizes for his fiction, including the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent novel, All the Light We Cannot See, was named a best book of 2014 by a number of publications, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller and #1 Sunday Times more

Rating details

4,860 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 37% (1,820)
4 39% (1,889)
3 18% (884)
2 4% (208)
1 1% (59)
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