Books·Canadian

Some Hellish by Nicholas Herring

A novel about a P.E. I. lobster fisher who has an existential crisis.

A novel about a P.E. I. lobster fisher who has an existential crisis

The book cover is a drawing of a white-and-red sailboat traversing massive, rolling waves.

Herring is a hapless lobster fisher lost in an unexceptional life, bored of thinking the same old thoughts. One December day, following a hunch, he cuts a hole in the living room floor and installs a hoist, altering the course of everything in his life. His wife Euna leaves with their children. He buries the family dog in a frozen grave on Christmas Eve. He and his friend Gerry crash his truck into a field, only to be rescued by a passing group of Tibetan monks.

During the spring lobster season, Herring and Gerry find themselves caught in a storm front. Herring falls overboard miles from the harbour, is lost at sea for days, and assumed to be drowned. And then, he is found, miraculously, alive. Having come so near to death, he is forced to confront the things he fears the most: love, friendship, belief, and himself.

Some Hellish is a story about anguish and salvation, the quiet grace and patience of transformation, the powers of addiction and fear, the plausibility of forgiveness, and the immense capacity of friendship and of love. (From Goose Lane Editions)

Some Hellish won the 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers's Trust Fiction Prize. 

Atwood Gibson Prize jury citation: "What Cormac McCarthy did for cowboys and horses, Nicholas Herring does for fishermen and boats in his novel Some Hellish. With a deep knowledge of the Island and a passion for the language of work, Herring's voice is droll and philosophical, ribald and poetic. The age-old story of humans versus nature finds a fresh cadence as Herring trawls the seas for body and soul. There is a dark beauty within this story, and it will make the reader's heart sing."

There is a dark beauty within this story, and it will make the reader's heart sing.- 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize jury

Nicholas Herring is a writer and carpenter from Murray Harbour, P.E.I. Some Hellish is his debut novel. His writing has also appeared in the Puritan and the Fiddlehead.

Why Nicholas Herring wrote Some Hellish

"Lobster fishing, on P.E.I., anyway, is this incredible industry. It's a ton of work. Your days are long, you're up early. It's very dangerous. It's kind of a beautiful industry, in that, given the danger of the job, it's kind of a commonplace thing that men and women are willing to go out on the water and risk their lives so that other people can eat lobster.

I wanted to write something that was entertaining; something that was beautiful and truthful and difficult.- Nicholas Herring

"I wanted to write something that was entertaining; something that was beautiful and truthful and difficult. I really wanted to write something that was kind of like life — as I see it at this moment in time."

Read more in his interview with The Next Chapter.

More interviews with Nicholas Herring

The debut novel from Island writer Nicholas Herring is a finalist for the distinguished 2022 Atwood Gibson Writer's Trust Fiction Prize. Nicholas joins us to talk about Some Hellish, set around the fishery in Kings County PEI.
NIcholas Herring on his novel, Some Hellish

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