The Surfacing: Book summary and reviews of The Surfacing by Cormac James

The Surfacing

by Cormac James

The Surfacing by Cormac James
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2015
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Far from civilization, on the hunt for Sir John Franklin's recently lost Northwest Passage expedition, Lieutenant Morgan and his crew find themselves trapped in ever-hardening Arctic ice that threatens to break apart their ship. When Morgan realizes that a stowaway will give birth to his child in the frozen wilderness, he finds new clarity and courage to lead his men across a bleak expanse as shifting, stubborn, and treacherous as human nature itself.

A harrowing tale of psychological fortitude against impossible odds, The Surfacing is also a beautifully told story of one man's transformative journey toward fatherhood.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Though the novel drags in places, James's sharp prose and attention to detail, particularly to sounds... leaves a lasting impression of this momentous journey." - Publishers Weekly

"A slow-burning psychological study... Underneath all the ice, there is real emotional depth." - Kirkus Reviews

"James uses the sublime appeal of the Arctic and the extreme situation of his characters as the stage for an essentially domestic psychological novel . . . The prose matches the landscape, rigorously unadorned, returning the gaze of a reader led into a world without hiding places." - The Guardian (UK)

"Although [The Surfacing] initially appears to focus on the unwinnable crusade of man against nature, at its centre is a love story—not a romance between adults but between a father and the son he learns to love... A moving reminder that some of the biggest journeys in life don't involve going anywhere at all." - Financial Times

"As much Jack London as Daniel Woodrell... James cleverly fashions a tense, controlled work that is bolstered by weighty research." - Irish Examiner

"Superb... [The Surfacing] is told in lean, cool, poetic prose and is utterly compelling." - Scotland Sunday Herald

"Highly original and poetic... The writing sparkles with inventiveness... Scenes break as turmoil calls all hands to deck in a battle for survival, offering an intense experience for the reader." - Irish Times

"An extraordinary novel, combining a powerful narrative with a considered and poetic use of language... Reading the book, I recalled the dramatic natural landscape of Jack London and the wild untamed seas of William Golding." - John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and A History of Loneliness

"The great topic of Cormac James' The Surfacing is the reach of human possibility. The prose is calm, vivid, hypnotic, and acutely piercing. James is attuned to the psychological moment: this is a book about fatherhood and all its attendant terrors. It's a remarkable achievement." - Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin and Transatlantic

"Cormac James' writing is very assured, with a harsh poetic edge. His evocations of barren landscape, sea weather, pack ice, and frozen skies are powerful and compelling." - Rose Tremain, author of Music & Silence and Merivel: A Man of His Time

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Cormac James was born in Cork, Ireland, and lives in Montpellier, France, with his wife and son. The Surfacing is his North American debut novel.

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