The North Water

The North Water

A Novel

Book - 2016
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One of The New York Times Book Review 's 10 Best Books of the Year

National Bestseller

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Winner of the RSL Encore Award

Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize

A New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Named a Best Book of the Year by Chicago Tribune , The Wall Street Journal , The Guardian , New Statesman , Publishers Weekly , and Chicago Public Library

Behold the man: stinking, drunk, and brutal. Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer , a Yorkshire whaler bound for the rich hunting waters of the arctic circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money, and no better option than to sail as the ship's medic on this violent, filthy, and ill-fated voyage.

In India, during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which man can stoop. He had hoped to find temporary respite on the Volunteer , but rest proves impossible with Drax on board. The discovery of something evil in the hold rouses Sumner to action. And as the confrontation between the two men plays out amid the freezing darkness of an arctic winter, the fateful question arises: who will survive until spring?

With savage, unstoppable momentum and the blackest wit, Ian McGuire's The North Water weaves a superlative story of humanity under the most extreme conditions.

Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Company, c2016
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781627795944
Branch Call Number: FIC MCG
Characteristics: 255 p. ;,25 cm.


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Sep 27, 2018

This is a rip-roaring adventure story and I found it very entertaining. Be warned that it is written in a very graphic and often crude way that fills the reader's head with the most vivid imagery. It is part of what makes it such a good read but it is definitely not for the sensitive soul.

Best you have a strong stomach as you read this gruesome tale of whaling in the Davis Strait. While the depictions of working-class life in the North-East is unflinchingly accurate and well-researched, I was deeply frustrated with the depictions of Inuit. McGuire's work has been compared to Joseph Conrad and I am inclined to agree, both use Indigenous peoples a literary devices rather than taking the time to learn about the culture in any nuanced way. I had hoped for better considering how well depicted whaling life was. Chinua Achebe in his iconic critique of Conrad worte: "Conrad saw and condemned the evil of imperial exploitation but was strangely unaware of the racism on which it sharpened its iron tooth. But the victims of racist slander who for centuries have had to live with the inhumanity it makes them heir to have always known better than any casual visitor even when he comes loaded with the gifts of a Conrad. " Too bad McGuire doesn't even take the time to frame the colonial foundations of whaling in the Canadian North.

Mar 02, 2018

NYT book review summed it up best: picture a meeting between Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy in some run-down port as they offer each other a long, sour nod of recognition.

susankent Jan 29, 2018

The many great qualities of this novel give it wide appeal; from the suspense-filled plot to the fascinating character of Sumner, it has all the makings of a classic!

Jan 13, 2018

The North Water by Ian McGuire with it’s vivid descriptions, foul smells and dangerous situations is one of the most visceral novels I have read. The story includes episodes of rape, animal cruelty and murder, all revealed with an excess of gore and violence and elevated by the author’s excellent writing and character development. I loved this unflinching tale of men at their basest level.

This book takes an unsparing look at men as they battle both the elements and each other and if you can handle a dark tale full of carnage and bloodshed then I would recommend The North Water as an excellent read.

Jun 20, 2017

This novel contains foul language, horrific gore, rape, murder, animal cruelty, and other examples of total moral bankruptcy and I absolutely loved it.I loved it for the author’s laser-focused descriptive writing and realistic character development. I loved it for its highly suspenseful story and well-researched and seamlessly-blended historical detail. I loved it for its outward exploration of the Arctic world and for its more inward moral and psychological explorations.

Jun 12, 2017

A pithy, historical adventure with dark themes. Evocative, brutal descriptions of war, ice flows and whaling. It's sure to be snapped up by Hollywood and will star Di Caprio in this Titanic meets The Revenant.

Apr 02, 2017

beautiful writing....and in a subject I don't even cared. made me a believer in the narrative. a lot of similarities with movie The Revenant

Feb 09, 2017

A gruesome novel about a whaling expedition gone wrong in the middle of 19th century......a dark unsettling novel....not for the faint hearted.....

Feb 01, 2017

O.M.G.!! As my old college lit. professor used to say"This is strong meat" What a book...not a cheerful moment; lots of violence, sodomy and murder on the high seas. That being said, its a heck of a read. You have to come up for air once in a while, but you can get thru it if you love good writing. Give it a try; not for everyone.

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