Peter Benchley’s Jaws is the ultimate pulp thriller, and this is the ultimate illustrated edition. Folio commissioned Hokyoung Kim for the artwork, while the late author’s wife, Wendy Benchley, provides a fascinating new introduction.
‘Pick up Jaws before midnight, read the first five pages, and I guarantee you’ll be putting it down breathless and stunned, as dawn is breaking the next day.’
One of the greatest cult thrillers of all time, Jaws has sold in excess of 20 million copies worldwide. Seething with sexual tension, political corruption and macabre affairs, the novel is deeper and darker than Steven Spielberg's seminal 1975 film, while the magnificent shark scenes are some of the most terrifying prose sequences in modern fiction. If ever a novel was begging to be illustrated, this is it. Korean artist Hokyoung Kim brings her unique cinematic style to this spectacular edition, including a chilling binding portrait of the Great White Shark that terrorises the community of Amity. Although fear is at the heart of the novel, the fragility of marine life also courses through the narrative, and this theme is explored by Wendy Benchley in her newly commissioned introduction.
Bound in printed, blocked, and soft-touch laminated paper
Set in Cardo with Clearface Gothic as display
Black & white integrated title-page spread plus 7 colour illustrations
9˝ x 6¼˝
‘Jaws is a tale about timeless elements of life and society, including fear of the unknown, death, science, greed, corruption, and summoning our ‘better angels’ to do the right thing.’
Wendy Benchley from her introduction
With a background in film production and narrative illustration, Korean artist Hokyoung Kim could not be better suited to illustrating this edition. Her impactful artwork demonstrates her passion for transforming stories into drawings, and her art and Jaws’ narrative match perfectly for maximum tension. This is the ultimate collector’s edition of the novel that terrified a generation of beach goers. All the ingredients of a page-turner are present, but there are also nods to the classics: the comparison between Quint and the insane Captain Ahab in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is striking. And behind the blood, guts and insalubrious encounters, Benchley offers a stark critique of American culture and the human obsession with suppressing nature.
‘A tightly written, tautly paced study of terror [that] makes us tingle.’
As much about the corrupt workings of a Long Island town as it is about shark attacks, Jaws nevertheless demonised the Great White by homing in on our innate fears. Like the residents of Amity, the reader is constantly braced for another grisly dismembering, and the longer the predator remains at large, the more is revealed about the murky dealings among the town’s authorities. Increasingly aware of the public fixation with sharks following the publication of Jaws – and Spielberg's subsequent film – Benchley spent the rest of his life campaigning for the safety of these incredible creatures, which have evolved over 450 million years but face being hunted to extinction in a century. His passion for marine conservation is shared by his wife Wendy, who continues to work in environmental politics and policy today: ‘Understanding the importance of sharks and the ocean has broadened our view of the planet’s future. Scientists, explorers, and (most) world leaders know that the health of Earth’s oceans is directly linked to some of the most significant challenges of our time.’
Peter Benchley was born in New York in 1940 and educated at Harvard. As a young man he worked as a journalist for the Washington Post and Newsweek, as well as a speechwriter for President Johnson. After several difficult years attempting to break through as a full-time writer, Benchley enjoyed enormous success on the publication of Jaws – a novel he had conceived a decade earlier – especially, of course, after the release of Steven Spielberg’s film version in 1975. Benchley’s other novels include The Deep and The Island, both of which have maritime settings and were turned into Hollywood films, though none of the later books was received with the acclaim and excitement of Jaws. In the 1990s, Benchley became an impassioned marine conservationist, seeking to communicate the true beauty and power of the sea, and to correct the record on the danger of shark attacks. He died in 2006 at his home in Princeton, New Jersey.
Wendy Benchley was married to Peter Benchley from 1964 until his death. She is an environmentalist and marine conservationist who has won prizes including the International SeaKeepers Lifetime Achievement Award and a Pegasus Foundation Wings Award for her work to conserve ocean habitats. A former board member of the Environmental Defense Fund, Benchley has advocated green policy reform in many arenas, partly through her work in New Jersey politics. She is particularly known for her activism on sharks, and as a leading member of WildAid she works to reduce global demand for illegal wildlife products such as shark fins.
Hokyoung Kim grew up in South Korea and studied painting at Hongik University in Seoul, followed by training in illustration at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. She is now based in Queens, New York City, and specialises in illustrations for print media. Her work has been commissioned by TheNew York Times, TheNew Yorker and TheWall Street Journal, as well as book publishers such as HarperCollins and corporate clients including Apple. She previously worked in animation and film production and has retained a strong interest in storytelling and narrative as part of her practice.
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