The Patron Saint of Eels


Book Information

  • ISBN: 9781743540015
  • Format: eBook
  • Pub Date: 19/06/2015
  • Category: Fiction & related items / Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
  • Imprint: Picador Australia
  • Price: $9.99

A contemporary fable, this book shows that when life seems dull and cruel it is the power of the natural world, and our ability to imagine it, that can bring the wonder back into living.

In the southern Italian village of Stellanuova, in the 1700s, a Franciscan monk, Fra Ionio, becomes known as the Patron Saint of Eels when he brings a distraught fisherman's yearly catch of eels back from the dead in the village market. When Stellanuova's inhabitants emigrate to Australia in the post World War II migrations of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the immortal saint is left looking down on an abandoned town. To fulfil his calling, he decides in heaven to migrate with his countrymen and now looks down on the state of Victoria, where he intercedes in matters relating to eels.

In the southern Victorian town of Mangowak, Noel Lea lives with the melancholy inheritance of a place undergoing the gentrifications of contemporary Australia. Along with his oldest friend, Nanette Burns, he longs for a time when life was less complex and unexpected magic seemed to permeate the ocean town and its people. When spring rains flood a nearby swamp and hundreds of eels get trapped in the grassy ditches around Noel's family home, he and Nanette encounter the vibrant Fra Ionio and get more magic than they bargained for.

A beautifully written, charming and evocative book by Gregory Day, who also authored Trace, in collaboration with photographer, Robert Ashton.

Author Information

Gregory Day is a writer, poet and musician whose debut novel, The Patron Saint of Eels (Picador, 2005), won the prestigious Australian Literature Society Gold Medal in 2006, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for a first novel, and included on the VCE Literature syllabus for five years. His second novel, Ron McCoy's Sea of Diamonds (Picador, 2007), was shortlisted for the 2008 NSW Premier's Prize for fiction, and his novel, The Grand Hotel (Random House, 2010), was chosen by the Herald Sun as the Best Australian Novel of 2010. In 2011 Gregory's story 'The Neighbour's Beans' won the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. He is a regular contributor to the literary pages of The Age and The Australian newspapers, writes a regular feature called 'Mislaid Books of the Sea' for Great Ocean Quarterly magazine and also writes long form literary criticism for the Sydney Review of Books. He lives on the southwest coast of Victoria, Australia. His novel Archipelago of Souls was shortlisted for the Tasmanian Premier's Award in 2017 and his new novel, A Sand Archive ('A bravura work' Michelle de Kretser) was published in May 2018.