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The North Water by Ian McGuire

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A 19th-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, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016. Chair of the 2016 judges Amanda Foreman commented: "This is a very exciting year. The range of books is broad and the quality extremely high. Each novel provoked intense discussion and, at times, passionate debate, challenging our expectations of what a novel is and can be. It is a longlist to be relished.”


The North Water by Ian McGuire

A ship sets sail with a killer on board ...1859. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship's surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the siege of Delhi, in the shape of Henry Drax: harpooner, murderer, monster ...


'A stunning achievement, by turns great fun and shocking, thrilling and provocative. Behold: one of the finest books of the year'
James Kidd, Independent on The North Water

'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 on The North Water

'Horrifically gripping. Such fine writing might have been lifted from the pages of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick'
Independent on Sunday on The North Water

'Terrific, seamed with pitch black humour and possessed of a momentum that's kept up to the final, unexpected but resoundingly satisfying scene ... Inspired'
Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail on The North Water

'As a storyteller, McGuire has a sure and unwavering touch, and he has engineered a superbly compelling suspense narrative ... As a stylist, too, McGuire is never less than assured ... a writer of exceptional craft and confidence'
Paraic O'Connell, Irish times on The North Water

'Raw and compulsively readable ... think The Revenant for the Arctic Circle'
The Millions on The North Water

'Terse, grisly...Henry Drax, chief harpooner on board the Volunteer, is the dark presence around whom the novel revolves and what a presence. One thing's for certain: like Moby Dick, this book is not about the fish.'
Daily Telegraph

'This book is quite a ride ... The powerful story and the riches of the setting do not romanticise the past'
Erica Wagner, New Statesman on The North Water

'The North Water has exceptional power and energy'
Nick Rennison, Sunday Times on The North Water

'A vivid read, full of twists, turns, period detail and strong characters ... An enjoyable contrast to most literary fiction'
Robbie Millen, The Times on The North Water

'Brilliant, fast-paced, gripping. A tour de force of narrative tension and a masterful reconstruction of a lost world'
Hilary Mantel on The North Water

'Riveting and darkly brilliant ... The North Water feels like the result of an encounter between Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy in some run-down port as they offer each other a long, sour nod of recognition. McGuire has an extraordinary talent'
Colm Toibin, New York Times on The North Water

About the Author

Ian McGuire grew up near Hull and studied at the University of Manchester and the University of Virginia, USA. He is a founder and co-director of the University of Manchester's Centre for New Writing. His stories have been published in the Chicago Review, Paris Review and elsewhere, and his first novel was Incredible Bodies. The North Water is his second novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

26th January 2017


Ian McGuire

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Scribner UK an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd


352 pages


Historical Fiction
Crime / Mystery
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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