Book Review: Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather By Pierre Szalowski


The novel is set “nowhere and everywhere” in Montreal and begins on the 25th December 1997.  It is the story of an unnamed 11 year old boy who realises his parents are about to separate.  To try and prevent this happening he prays to the sky.

“No one answered I was all alone.  I went over to the window .  It was raining and I looked up at the sky, grey and black.  I couldn’t stop staring at it.  I was so small and it was so big.  And I prayed to the sky to help me”

The sky listens and then the sky answers by delivering the fiercest ice storm ever seen in Montreal.  The consequences are the uniting of a disparate community brought together in unusual circumstances.

Other significant characters apart from the unnamed boy and his parents are the boys best Friend Alex and almost alcoholic father Alexis; Boris an eccentric Russian mathematician and owner of the fish in the title; Julie an exotic dancer and Michael and Simon a gay couple pretending to be brothers.  It’s probably fair to say that the characters are a little underdeveloped but I enjoyed the simplicity of this and suspect it probably adds to the overall light-hearted feel of the novel.

The story has  a fairy tale quality.  The chapters are short with appealing titles such as “Christmas goes by so fast” and  “What a beautiful thing, a man who says he’ll be back”.  This is a quirky little book that I really enjoyed.  My unplanned reading of it in December during a cold frosty snap probably added to my enjoyment and it became my accidental Christmas Read of 2014

This is a happy, funny book, and with such a pretty cover and original title how could you not be drawn to it.  Perfect for January reading when the days are short and the nights are long and it just might feel a little icy outside.


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