LONGLISTED FOR THE 2016 MAN BOOKER PRIZE!
A nineteenth-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp, and highly original tale that grips like a thriller.
In India, during the Siege of Delhi, Patrick 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, The North Water weaves a superlative story of humanity under the most extreme conditions.
“Ian McGuire’s savage new novel about a 19th-century Arctic whaling expedition, is a great white shark of a book — swift, terrifying, relentless and unstoppable. It is also as epically bloody as a Jacobean drama or a Cormac McCarthy novel.”
— Michiko Kakutani
The New York Times
“A tour de force of narrative tension and a masterful reconstruction of a lost world that seems to exist at the limits of the human imagination.”
— Hilary Mantel
New York Times bestselling author of Wolf Hall
“This is a novel that takes us to the limits of flesh and blood. Utterly convincing and compelling, remorselessly vivid, and insidiously witty, The North Water is a startling achievement.”
— Martin Amis
New York Times bestselling author of Zone of Interest
“The North Water is the rare novel capable of making a past time and place palpable. Ian McGuire writes with a poet's attentiveness to detail, which infuses this dark and violent novel with an unsettling beauty.”
— Ron Rash
New York Times bestselling author of Serena and Above the Waterfall
“The North Water is a whaling novel in the same way that Blood Meridian is a western. I enjoyed the brashness and the economy of the writing, the sense of humanity, and the sly, black humor. The novel wasn't afraid to take chances and I was surprised several times. I was always entertained. . . . An exceedingly well-written historical adventure.”
— Shannon Burke
author of Into the Savage Country
“If one took Melville's dream journal and compiled the nightmares into one harrowing novel, it would be Ian McGuire's The North Water. The claustrophobic conflict between the flawed humanity of Patrick Sumner and the supernatural evil of Henry Drax examines the brutal depths of the human soul.”
— James Scott
author of The Kept
“Enthralling and brutal. A vivisection of hard men in a cold world, and a propulsive, suspenseful adventure into the darkness of mortal existence.”
— Dennis Mahoney
author of Bell Weather and Fellow Mortals
“A dark, brilliant yarn….An amazing journey.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A raw and compulsively readable swashbuckler about the whaling business, with violence and intrigue in dirty port towns and on the high seas. There are many disturbing interactions between people and people, and people and animals — think The Revenant for the Arctic Circle.”
— The Millions
“McGuire delivers one bravura set-piece after another... The North Water has, in places, a Conrad–Melville undercurrent, but for the most part it is Dickens’s influence that is most keenly felt... This is a stunning novel, one that snares the reader from the outset and keeps the tightest grip until its bitter end.”
— Financial Times
“McGuire delivers not only arresting depictions of bloody destruction, but moments of fine prose that recall Seamus Heaney's harsh music, as when an iceberg is described as 'an albinistic butte unmoored from the desert floor.' For noirish thrills in an unusual setting, McGuire has the goods and the gore...”
— Kirkus Reviews
Ian McGuire grew up near Hull, England, and studied at the University of Manchester and the University of Virginia. He is the cofounder and codirector of the University of Manchester's Centre for New Writing. He writes criticism and fiction, and his stories have been published in Chicago Review, The Paris Review, and elsewhere.