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Nominated (shortlisted) for the Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction
Longlisted for the Maine Library Readers’ Choice Award
A 20 Best Books of May pick on Apple’s iBookstore
A LibraryReads top 10 Pick
A 20 Best Books of May pick on Apple’s iBookstore
A New York Post Best Book of Summer
A Toronto Life Must-Read
A Windsor Star Must-Read
A Paris Star Library Pick
A Top Shelf Spring Pick
A Millions Most Anticipated Book of 2014
A National Post Most Anticipated (Canadian) Book of 2014
Minneapolis Star Tribune Summer Books Must-Read
Boston Magazine Summer Books Must-Read

“"Zentner's literary tour de force takes hold of the reader's imagination and doesn't let go. Extraordinary story-telling not to be missed." Library Journal starred review

“The Lobster Kings trades in large, contemporary themes. Loosewood Island, we are to understand, is a microcosm for the onslaught of globalization that’s going to leave the world a more transparent and less imaginative place. Enclaves once considered to be worlds unto themselves will inevitably have to wade in the same morass of problems as everyone else. The story’s disillusionment with faceless progress is aptly paired with Zentner’s foremost strength, the magic realism that makes this lost fictional world so vividly specific and, at the same time, so evocative of the many places across this country that we know will eventually disappear to the same forces.
It bears noting that Zentner displays more talent and controlled craftsmanship in The Lobster Kings than many other writers will manage in a career’s worth of novels. The scope of his fictional creation, indicative of Canada’s ongoing identity struggles in the 21st century, is as masterfully rendered as one of Brumfitt Kings’ many paintings. And like those stark paintings that rise up from the pages of the novel to provide Cordelia Kings insight in stepping forward into an untenable future, we can only hope that Zentner’s mesmerizing novels will continue to reflect our own deep psychic discomforts back to us as oddly beautiful deliberations.” The Toronto Star

“Zentner’s second novel (after Touch) is brutal and beautiful. Heroine Cordelia Kings is a member of the legendary lobster-fishing Kings family, which has been plying their trade for 300 years on Loosewood Island, Maine. Her family line began with painter and fisherman Brumfitt Kings, who believed his wife was a gift from the sea. Gifts come with a price, and there is a legend that the Kings suffer from a curse; the curse appears to be real when Cordelia’s brother, Scotty, dies (he was expected to be heir to the family lobster company, but, as it turns out, wasn’t the waterman Cordelia is). As times change, so do threats. Lobstermen from nearby James Harbor moved into the Loosewood fishing territory some time ago; now they’re also running drugs. But Loosewood’s small population (including Cordelia’s two younger sisters and her tyrannical father) can’t wait around for the authorities to react; they take care of things themselves, igniting a spark that starts the book’s escalating conflict. Zentner gets the reader to root for Cordelia very early on. 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

“In Alexi Zentner’s second novel, The Lobster Kings, there is magic and mystery, there is myth and folklore, there are piercing observations. . . . One of Zentner’s most marked authorial talents . . . is the ability to create a place that seems real enough to live in, yet within which there is the possibility of magic that is just believable enough and entirely unbelievable at the same time.” Marissa Stapley, The Globe and Mail

“An essential summer read. . . . By laying Shakespearean themes over the culturally rich New England lobster grounds, Zentner, a former newspaperman and climber, produces a deeply satisfying novel that reveals what is required by and given to those who inherit a family’s legacy.” Outside Magazine

“[Zentner] paints an exhilarating portrait of a stormy yet close-knit community and of a woman who needs a tough exterior to survive, but whose heart tells a different story.” Kate Dupuis, Chatelaine

“Iconic Canadian landscapes and troubled family lore combine once again in [Alexi Zantner’s] sophomore effort, The Lobster Kings. . . . [The novel] trades in large, contemporary themes. Loosewood Island, we are to understand, is a microcosm for the onslaught of globalization that’s going to leave the world a more transparent and less imaginative place. . . . The story’s disillusionment with faceless progress is aptly paired with Zentner’s foremost strength, the magic realism that makes this lost fictional world so vividly specific and, at the same time, so evocative of the many places across this country that we know will eventually disappear to the same forces. It bears noting that Zentner displays more talent and controlled craftsmanship in The Lobster Kings than many other writers will manage in a career’s worth of novels. The scope of his fictional creation . . . is as masterfully rendered as one of Brumfitt Kings’ many paintings. And like those stark paintings that rise up from the pages of the novel to provide Cordelia Kings insight in stepping forward into an untenable future, we can only hope that Zentner’s mesmerizing novels will continue to reflect our own deep psychic discomforts back to us as oddly beautiful deliberations.” Dimitri Nasrallah, Toronto Star

“Sidestepping the dreaded sophomore jinx with the grace of a spooked deer in thick cover, [Alexi Zentner] is back with another magical book. The Lobster Kings is equal parts folk tale, romance, historical yarn, ghost story, murder mystery, family saga and naturalistic novel. Shakespeare's monumental King Lear casts a long shadow over this beautifully crafted, richly atmospheric, mythopoeic novel. . . . You owe it to yourself to hold your nose, take a deep breath, and dive into the nautical wonders of The Lobster Kings.” Robert Reid, Waterloo Region Record

“When we read an adaptation . . . there’s a thrilling satisfaction in spotting familiar themes, conflicts and characters reimagined in a new context. This is one of the primary pleasures of reading Zentner’s novel, which is loosely based on King Lear. . . . Here, as in his debut, Touch . . . Zentner proves himself a gifted architect of possible worlds. The island is richly imagined, and the Kings’ family history is soaked in mythology. . . . Zentner’s fictional island feels uncannily real.” Naoko Asano, Maclean’s

“A can’t-put-it-down beach read.” Travelers Today

“This well-crafted story truly captures the beauty and brutality of living by the sea. The characters show what it’s like to have saltwater in your veins and commitment to family and community. Zentner depicts a way of life that is fast disappearing. Perfect for summer reading.” Lisa Marie Joyce, LibraryReads

“So big on legend, rich in style and crowded with the kind of people who simultaneously seduce you and tear at the foundations of your understanding, it makes you want to drop your life, call the movers and buy a one-way ticket to Zentner’s universe. The Lobster Kings 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. The bold and endearingly stubborn Cordelia Kings is a protagonist we can root for, flaws and all, as she struggles to reconcile the past with the present." Ben Fountain, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

“Just as compelling as the dragons, mermaids and selkies that may inhabit the waters of Loosewood Island are its year-round residents, besieged by tourists, art historians and drug smugglers. With a knowing nod to 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

“Alexi Zentner’s The Lobster Kings is that rare tale that has everything you could possibly want—mystery, mythology, poetry, action and heart. It’s a marvel of a book by a writer working at the height of his literary powers.” Alison Pick, author of Far to Go

“This masterfully written book is many things: a heartbreaking family saga, a myth-enshrouded ghost story, a thickly calloused ode to work and to art—not to mention a pulse-pounding mystery. Alexi Zentner commands both the malevolence and the magnificence of the natural world like no writer I know.” Michael Christie, author of The Beggar's Garden


The Lobster Kings
is listed in The Millions “Most Anticipated: The Great 2014 Book Preview,” the National Post’s “The 25 most anticipated (Canadian) books of 2014,” and the 49th Shelf’s “Most Anticipated: Spring 2014 Fiction Preview”