FAR NORTH by Marcel Theroux

Book Quote:

“My father used to say he decided to leave America when he noticed that the poor had all begun to look alike.

He didn’t mean their faces, and he didn’t mean only the poor of the United States. He meant poor people everywhere.”

Book Review:

Review by Lynn Harnett (OCT 22, 2009)

The narrator of Theroux’s post-apocalyptic novel, Makepeace Hatfield (who lives up to the name), is the last survivor of an immigrant Siberian community – a place Makepeace’s British parents had come to to escape the material world. But the rescue of a starving waif awakens her longing for companionship, love and civilization, spurring the road trip that drives the novel.

Theroux’s vast, harsh landscape complements Makepeace’s lonely, hardscrabble, survivor’s life, and elements of stark beauty parallel human vulnerability and hope. The journey in search of others shares some elements with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and will attract the same readers. It’s a page turner of a road novel without a lot of faith in human altruism, but with plenty invested in communal ingenuity and individual resourcefulness.

Makepeace, disillusioned and battered, has a deep inner resilience that relies on heart for its strength. Theroux shapes Makepeace’s character in language that illuminates the relationship between what we tell ourselves and what actually is and the hope that bridges the gap.

Editor’s note: Far North has recently been selected as a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award. A surprising nomination given that the book is set in Siberia (but “written in American idiom” and  the author  was born in Kampala, Uganda, and now lives in London. To qualify for this “American” book award, the author must have an American citizenship, which one assumes he does, since he is the son of the American writer Paul Theroux. (See more on the other selections for this year’s finalists in this interesting The New York Times article.)

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 40 readers
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 9, 2009)
REVIEWER: Lynn Harnett
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Marcel Theroux
EXTRAS: Excerpt (scroll down)
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: More post-apocalypse novels:


October 22, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Literary, National Book Award Finalist, Russia, Scifi, World Lit

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