It’s refreshing to read a novel set in the North that doesn’t use emphasize the “remoteness” or “harsh winters,” but rather the warmth to be found there.
I’ve become something of a scholar of novels written by people who’ve spent time in the Arctic. Not recommending this one.
Whoa! This book isn’t just about alcoholism: it’s about promiscuity, and the forces that drive it, and that’s something we just don’t talk about.
It’s not the North I had in mind when I started this blog, but I have to recommend this amazing work of fiction set in Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.
Let the public rest assured: when a forty-plus-year-old novel is totally forgotten and remains obscure and hard to find, there’s a reason for that.
Somehow this book didn’t make a strong impression the first time I read it. Re-reading it, I was struck by its scale and scope, and completely drawn into the hopes and fates of its many characters. And it doesn’t get any better than that.
There’s no better description of scent in the Arctic than in Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth: “The air is so clean you can smell the difference between smooth rock and jagged. You can smell water running over shale.”
Obviously the Ibo people in Nigeria are pretty different from anyone living in the (now) Canadian Arctic, but Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart is a beautiful story of one worldview giving way to another, with pretty drastic consequences.
Richard Van Camp’s stories in this 2009 collection feel easy and conversational, and are carried along by dark humour, detailed descriptions of sexual conquest, and 1980’s era imagery, writes our reviewer Sarah Swan.