|The Old Man and the Sea, a man, a fish, some sharks, the water and a boat.|
The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea is a slim hundred and thirty pages in length. Generally considered to be Hemingway's last good book, it also won the Pulitzer Prize and was a staple of courses in American literature for decades after publication. Today, it's popularity has been eclipsed, a victim of the quest for other (non white, non male) voices, particularly when it comes to tales about Caribbean fishermen. Let the fishermen speak for themselves, in their own language, is what contemporary teachers of literature would most likely say.
The story concerns an old fisherman and his quest to bring in one last giant marlin. It is a journey that takes him far out into the gulf stream, off the coast of Cuba. The Old Man and the Sea is one of those narratives that has burrowed so far into the popular consciousness that you can almost write the damn thing. Reading Hemingway outside of the constraints of school has been a delight. I find his restrictive prose soothing, a welcome antidote to the stuffy English and European upper classes of most early 20th century fiction. Like other Anglo-American authors, he moves into fraught territory with Latin American characters, but you can't really hold him responsible for wanting to write this story and feeling like he was competent to do so.