In 2003, my The Book of Eels was published to some praise from reviewers and general indifference on the part of the book-buying public. I wondered, at the time, why people could not be persuaded to share my fascination with such an amazing creature. But maybe it was just the timing, for not only was a new edition of my eel book published this summer, but now we have a Scandinavian perspective on eels from Patrik Svensson. The Gospel of the Eels caused a ferment of competitive chequebook waving at last year’s London Book Fair and has already appeared to acclaim in the United States. It’s no less than the creature deserves. The eel’s physiology, migrations and habits are extraordinary.
Svensson opens with an account of the life cycle of the eel, beginning with its birth in the deep, salty waters of the Sargasso Sea. Larval eels are swept across the Atlantic by the Gulf Stream, a journey that can take up to three years, at which point they metamorphose