The Swordfish and the Star

Author: Gavin Knight

Publisher: Vintage

The Penwith Peninsula in Cornwall is where the land ends. In The Swordfish and the Star Gavin Knight takes us into this huddle of grey roofs at the edge of the sea.

He catches the stories of a whole community, but especially those still working this last frontier: the Cornish fishermen. These are the dreamers and fighters who every day prepare for battle with the vast grey Atlantic. Cornwall and its seas are brought to life, mixing drinking and drugs and sea spray, moonlit beaches and shattering storms, myth and urban myth. The result is an arresting tapestry of a place we thought we knew; the precarious reality of life in Cornwall today emerges from behind our idyllic holiday snaps and picture postcards. Even the quaint fishermen’s pubs on the quay at Newlyn, including the Swordfish and its neighbour the Star, turn out to be places where squalls can blow up, and down again, in an instant.

Based on immersive research and rich with the voices of a cast of remarkable characters, this is an eye-opening, dramatic, poignant account of life on Cornwall’s most dangerous coast.

“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

“A hugely refreshing dunk in the ocean ….for pushing at the boundaries of what non-fiction writing can achieve…and unearthing some fascinating social history to boot, Knight is to be applauded.” Roger Cox, Scotland on Sunday

“A marvellous and humane book about Cornwall” Paul Theroux

The Swordfish and the Star has just been reviewed in The Guardian by our very own Patrick Gale. Read review…

All books featured at the Penzance Literary Festival are available to buy from The Edge of the World bookshop in Penzance.

This book isn't specifically featured within an event at the 2015 Penzance Literary Festival.