Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 21, 2014

The Weaver Fish (2014), by Robert Edeson (Winner of the 2012 Hungerford Award)

The Weaver Fish

I loved this book!  But be warned, you must press on to Chapter Five before you have the foggiest idea what it’s ‘about’.  Do not, I repeat, do not abandon this book because you don’t ‘get it’ in the first chapters, it starts making sense from page 35 onwards, and from Chapter Six onwards, trust me, it is unputdownable.  And sooooo clever!

I’d better explain myself.  This is the blurb:

Cambridge linguist Edvard Tøssentern, presumed dead, reappears after a balloon crash. When he staggers in from a remote swamp, gravely ill and swollen beyond recognition, his colleagues at the research station are overjoyed. But Edvard’s discovery about a rare giant bird throws them all into the path of an international crime ring.

The Weaver Fish is a gripping adventure story. Set on the island nation of Ferendes in the South China Sea, this book’s sound science and mathematical games will make you question all that you know, or think you know, about weaver fish, giant condors, the infamous tornado-proof Reckles® Texan hat, and much much more.

The book won the T A G Hungerford Award in 2012, but when you start reading the odd but intriguing story of the weaver fish in Chapter One, which seems to be in the style of a naturalist or anthropological journal complete with footnotes, and are then confronted by Chapter Two which seems to be like the text of a Guided Walk in London, and then Chapter Three is a journalist’s report; Chapter Four is an advertising flyer and Chapter Five is an obituary – well, any reader, I suspect, is going to be well and truly puzzled.  None of these chapters forming a pastiche seem to have anything to do with each other until a name recurs in Chapter Five – though by then the author’s habit of offering droll names has created a strong sense of suspicion that someone is having us on.   There is Edvard Tøssentern, for example, (hint: read the surname aloud); Walter Reckles, Groyniyech Kondomov and Linda Feckles.  And those authoritative footnotes?  Very impressive, but my advice is to read them with a large pinch of salt…

The Weaver Fish is seriously good fun, and once you get the joke, tremendously clever without being intimidating.

And yes, I did fall for looking at the Reading Group notes at the Fremantle Press website, silly me!

Author: Robert Edeson
Title: The Weaver Fish
Publisher: Fremantle Press, 2014
ISBN: 9781922089526
Source: Review copy courtesy of Fremantle Press

Fishpond: The Weaver Fish 
Or direct from Fremantle Press.


  1. It’s now on my Amazon wish list! (oh dear)


    • *chuckle* Delighted to hear it!


  2. Quite something eh Lisa? You certainly find some “novel” reads. I wonder if the author is taking a great risk of his book being abandoned before chapter 6 though. This goes against all creative writing course advice about how to write opening chapters which hook the reader. I think he relies on his book being passed around by word of mouth (or book blog).


    • Oh dear, I hope I haven’t given the wrong impression, Tom, those first five chapters are captivating, it’s just that as you read them, you find yourself worrying a little bit that you’re not making sense of the puzzles that the blurb tells you about. I actually wrote in my journal, ‘maybe I’m not smart enough to read this book’. But then along came chapter 6 and the pieces started to fall into place.
      I suspect that you would love this book!


  3. Sounds…..interesting! lol


    • It’s got some *very* topical concerns, Marg, but I’m not saying a word about that to spoil it for anyone!


  4. The author is an anaesthetist, so I’m naturally drawn to it. Glad to hear that you liked it so much, it was on the TBR, but this just confirms it’s place (in that very, very long list).


    • Well, that is interesting, that the author is in the medical profession. To sustain the mystery that surrounds this novel, the usual author bio is obfuscating. It says that the author is thought to be this person, but possibly another one, and maybe someone else altogether.
      I bet you’ll pick up on a lot more of the jokes than I did… I look forward to your review.


  5. […] see also: Lisa at ANZLL’s review (here) […]


  6. […] Name is Red for the world,  or any of Patrick White’s books, or the sly cunning of The Weaver Fish by Robert Edeson. I was fascinated by Mud Map, Australian Women’s Experimental Writing and I don’t like […]


  7. […] started reading this, I thought of Robert Edeson’s The Weaver Fish, which I recently read and reviewed.  A Horse of Air has a similar cheeky narrative style: the author jocularly undercuts his own […]


  8. […] 2012 The Weaver Fish, by Robert Edeson […]


  9. […] in The Weaver Fish by fellow WA author Robert Edison, the footnotes are part of the narrative.  There are in fact […]


  10. […] 2012 The Weaver Fish, by Robert Edeson […]


  11. […] Madelaine Dickie, Brenda Walker, Jay Martin, Gail Jones, Natasha Lester, Jacqueline Wright, Robert Edeson,  Donna Mazza, Simone Lazaroo and Alice Nelson.  Nathan Hobby’s The Fur is on my TBR, and I […]


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