Alexander Maksik's electrifying novel tracks a woman's journey from the horrors of Charles Taylor's Liberia to abject poverty and self-exile on a Greek island, where she must grapple with a haunted past and find a way back into human society.
On an island somewhere in the Aegean, Jacqueline, a young Liberian woman, veers between starvation and satiety, between the brutality of her past and the precarious uncertainty of her present in the aftermath of experiences so unspeakable that she prefers homeless numbness to the psychological confrontation she knows is inevitable.
Hypnotic, highly sensual, exquisitely written, and extraordinary in its depiction of both pleasure and pain, of excruciating physical and spiritual hungers, A Marker to Measure Drift is a novel about memory, how we live with what we know, and whether and how we go forward, intact and whole, after the ravages of loss. It is beautiful, lacerating, impossible to put down. A breakthrough work from a prodigiously gifted young writer.
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"A Marker to Measure Drift has its moments of beauty, but ultimately, Maksik can't pull off the literary version of 'Castaway.' His character, a young Liberian refugee vagabonding around the Greek Isles, just isn't compelling enough to carry an entire novel. Frankly, by the end, I didn't care what happened to her; I just wanted to get away from her." - Morgan Macgregor, BookBrowse
"Though the drawn-out mystery of this unanchored woman's past may frustrate those in need of a more dynamic narrative, patient readers will be rewarded by Maksik's gorgeous and evocative prose. " - Publishers Weekly
"A moving, deeply felt and lyrical novel about past and present." - Kirkus
"Gorgeously written, tightly wound, with language as precise as cut glass, Alexander Maksik's A Marker to Measure Drift is a tour de force. Maksik renders the soul of his heroine, a Liberian refugee, with stark honesty so that we understand both the brutality of what she has run from and the terror she experiences as she tries to build her life back. I was undone by this novel. I challenge anyone to read it and not come away profoundly changed." - Marisa Silver, author of Mary Coin and The God of War
"This novel is spellbinding. In its tenderness, grandeur and austerity, it reminds us that there is no country on earth as foreign, as unreachable, as the frantic soul of another human being." - Susanna Sonnenberg
"A Marker to Measure Drift is a haunting, haunted novel. Things get stripped down to essentials - food, water, where to sleep for the night, a state of solitary desperation brought on by the most profound kind of loss. Every line of this excellent novel rings true as Maksik leads us toward the catastrophe at the story's core. This is one of those books that leaves you staring into space when you finish, dazed from the sheer power of what's been said." - Ben Fountain
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Alexander Maksik is the author of the novel You Deserve Nothing. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, his writing has appeared in Harper's, Tin House, Harvard Review, The New York Times Magazine, Salon, and Narrative Magazine, among others, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
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