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Author: Guillaume Lecasble

Translator: Polly McLean   Cover illustration: David Smith  

'Woman has sex with lobster' is not the most obvious premise for an erotic novel, but Guillaume Lecasble intends Lobster to be an allegory for the shells we build around ourselves in a relationship and our inability to communicate with those who really matter to us. Whether you find anything at all erotic in this short sharp novel, ably translated by Polly McLean, depends on whether you can take this premise seriously or just view it as an arty Gallic joke. And potential female readers be warned – Angelina's attempts at lobster love lead to a nasty accident which will leave you crossing your legs in sympathy!

E.C. in FRM Magazine

On board the Titanic, a lobster is saved from death at the moment he was about to be boiled. Now red, yet alive, he manages to escape, but not before an erotic moment with the woman that ate his father. This weird and wonderful little fable is like the awful offspring of Hans Christian Andersen and Salvador Dali: it is filthy romanticism and heart-breaking smut. As the story progresses, the metaphors it deploys become apparent: without or with a shell, who is vulnerable? Can love exist without pain? Do we seek in lovers the echo of one profound moment, or aspire towards someone that unites all the failed loves? Lescables's big little story provides no answers and all the questions, beautifully.

S.B.Kelly in Scotland on Sunday

There was a Lobster-shaped hole in world literature which has now been filled by this remarkable work.

Nick Lezard's choice for The Guardian's paperback of the week.

Transcending boundaries of species both Lobster and Angelina are awoken sexually through a bizarre encounter as an unreal union is forged. With an unnerving sexual narrative forcing questions about true love, Lecasble's erotic novella is thrown a lifeline thanks to his muted symbolism which renders a love story like no other.

RSJ in Buzz Magazine

The latest in Dedalus's Euro Shorts series is a surreal anti-fairy tale featuring a bizarre trio of star-crossed lovers. Plucked rudely from the sea, Lobster finds himself in a tank in the Titanic's dining room, watching in horror as Angelina, a beautiful young opium addict, devours his father. Lobster himself is dropped into boiling water three days later, but is saved when the Titanic hits the iceberg and, red but alive, he's sent careening through the flooding ship. He finds Angelina trapped in the death grip of her male companion, frees her with his pincers, realizes that he feels human lust for her and, in a startling scene, brings her to her first-ever orgasm. They escape to a lifeboat, but Lobster falls overboard, and the book's next movement concerns the lovers' attempts to experience such ecstasy again. Angelina loses her clitoris to the pincers of the wrong lobster, and Lobster, feasting on Titanic dead, befriends Jules, a Newfoundland tattoo artist/fisherman, whom he hopes will somehow take him to Angelina. Meeting Angelina on a ship to France, Jules (who's brought Lobster along in a basket) falls in love with her too. With its fortuitous encounters and near misses, its moments of sweet affection and suicidal despair, Lecasble's tale manages to be both tender and appalling.

Publishers Weekly

A brief, bizarre, boiling broth of surrealism, romantic fatalism and slapstick. Not for the squeamish.

Kirkus Reviews

A fable of crustacean love. Our hero is a lobster aboard the Titanic. From his tank, he watches his father being eaten by a pretty girl. Then the boat founders and Lobster escapes. Aboard the sinking ship, Angelina, the girl who ate his dad, knows a brief but shattering moment of physical love with Lobster. Then they are separated. They pine for each other. Angelina tries having sex with another lobster, with disastrous results. Death smells of bay leaves.

Sam Leith in The Daily Telegraph

In terms of abusing the natural world, Lobster by Guillaume Lecasble is in a league of its own. The surrealist tale of a lobster on board the Titanic which finds itself helplessly attracted to a human female, the book hinges on the life-changing orgasm the fishy amorist gives Angelina as the boat sinks in the icy water.

Tom Fleming in The Literary Review

Depicted in surreal but lucid prose, Lobster is a deeply sensual book that calls our attention to the directly erotic sections with a gentle and evocative lick of the narrative tongue, while arousing our passions throughout by creating the subtle sensation of an unsatisfied craving. By the end of the book, one feels like Lobster’s pain is becoming one’s own; trapped permanently in a stage of heightened, faceless arousal with little chance of gratification. The Dedalus Euro Shorts are intended to be just long enough that they can be read on the Eurostar to Paris and there can be few better ways to prepare yourself for a spell in the city of love than to take in the heady scent of Lobster; it could be an excuse for almost anything…

Zachary Pearson in The Erotic Review

Lecasble's first novel marks the latest formal move in a career that has already progressed from painting to filmmaking to children's books. Is it surprising, then, that Lobster is a story of changing forms, like something out of Ovid's Metamorphoses? When the Titanic hits the iceberg, beautiful, morose Angelina is trapped in her elderly escort's death grip, and Lobster is tossed from the pot in which he was to have cooked, reddened but alive. Dazed yet aroused, the crustacean homes in on Angelina, frees her, and brings her to orgasm for the first time ever. Spent, the lovers, psychosexually altered forever, inevitably go separate ways. They do not rationalize away their impossible encounter, however, and each resolves to find the other again. Fisher--tattooist Jules must become accomplice and more before Angelina and Lobster reconsummate. Lecasble has perhaps learned equally from film and Rimbaud the dreamlike impetus of his prose, which sweeps impossibility, and the reader's possible disgust, before it. Ludicrous and macabre, as well as erotic, this is some kind of tour de force.

Ray Olson in Booklist

“Lobster didn’t want to go. He put up a fight. The fisherman grabbed him by the tail and pulled him out of the pot.” So begins the harrowing coming of age tale told from the perspective of a creature of the sea, as Lobster replays the account of his brief and Titanic-bound life. After being pulled from the sea and placed in a crate it is only a matter of time before he can hear the clinking of metal utensils to know the future is not offering any improved conditions. Awaiting certain death, he watches as his father is cooked, served, and eaten by Angelina, a young disenchanted woman. But at this juncture Lobster finds himself conflicted: should he hate her, or should he acknowledge the strange tingling sensations he is feeling for this soft skinned creature of no shell? This question is soon answered as the Titanic goes Mayday, for Lobster’s pot is overturned, setting him free; he finds himself pulled by the swirling waters between Angelina’s legs, where the most orgasmic interaction ensues. It is not long afterward that Lobster and Angelina are tragically separated. As the tale develops into an intertwining of serpentine paths Lobster searches for his new love interest to no avail and she, in kind, searches for him. The story unfolds as a Romeo and Juliet gone horribly wrong at sea. Told in a spare, matter-of-fact style, this novel brings home the story of perhaps the first recorded love affair between human and crustacean. And so enrapturing is the tale you may find yourself inexorably drawn to relive the adventures of the main character, Lobster. You can be sure that Angelina is still out there somewhere, searching, and if you are her Lobster, you may find that there remains much unspoken.

C.B.Smith in Mad Hatters Review

Agreeably unsettling, and avoiding the obvious turns, twists, and resolutions, Lobster has something of the classical fairy tale to it - the kind which did without the easy or heavy-handed moralizing. It is, however, an adult tale, in every sense, a mature kind of fiction and a clever piece of invention - the kind of novel we see far too little of.

M.A.Orthofer in The Complete Review

'Lecasble has us looking at things in a different way and very original way.'

John Alvey in The Modern Novel

'It's a French book, and I don't just mean that it was written in French, but it's so strange, serious yet cartoonish, that you couldn't imagine it coming from anywhere else but France - like the movie Delicatessen.

Lobster, our titular character, is a lobster. So far so easy. One day while out swimming he and his family are caught and taken aboard the Titanic. From the aquarium he witnesses the death of his parents as they are boiled alive, turning from blue to the more familiar lobster red. Bizarrely, he finds himself attracted to the women who eats his father. Then, just as Lobster is about to be boiled himself, the doomed ship hits the iceberg, the pot falls off the stove, and Lobster scurries to safety. In a liferaft he shares an intimate moment with the woman who ate his father, and just as love is about to blossom, they are cruelly separated. (All this in the first few pages.)'

World Literature Forum

RRP: £8.99

No. of pages: 110

Publication date: 28.07.2023

Re-print date: 28.07.2023

ISBN numbers:
978 1 915568 23 6
978 1 915568 24 3

Dedalus World English Rights