The North Water

north water cover image The North Water

by Ian McGuire
General Fiction
Henry Holt & Co.
Hardcover, 272 pages

With Melville, Conrad and Patrick O’Brien, this book takes its place in the dark pantheon of maritime classics. It’s the 1850’s and the Yorkshire whaler, Volunteer, sets out for the north in search of the diminishing whale pods. Among those aboard is an opium-addicted surgeon, a veteran of the British Raj, Patrick Sumner; and, a vile and vicious harpooner, Henry Drax. Sumner, though flawed, is mostly good. Drax, with no redeeming quality is deeply bad. Their struggle is all male – no feminism here! – and is as violent and brutal as anything in the genre. Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.