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Afterlands by Steven Heighton

Afterlands (edition 2006)

by Steven Heighton

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1024118,402 (3.28)6
Authors:Steven Heighton
Info:Vintage Canada (2006), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:2008 TC Booksale

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Afterlands by Steven Heighton



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This book pulled me in from the start, from its narrative, characters and the story itself, it was a book hard to put down, and book I'd highly recommend, as it's one that's well worth reading. The writing style was wonderful. The author managed to capture a lot of power and emotion with the writing style, which was part of what had me so engrossed in the book. The writing style/narrative especially during kept the book going, even parts that were slower or a little repetitive. The story itself, the characters struggle for survival while trapped on the ice floe, and later survival of life itself, was extraordinary.

The characters were also incredibly well done. Each character was well shaped and developed, and while some characters were just unlikable, they were still enjoyable to read about. Kruger was probably my favourite character, even with the conflicting views of him throughout the narrative, he was the character that stuck out the most for me. Because the book was told partly though journal entries, so there's the biased view of who our narrator concentrated on, which was why some characters didn't get as much focus as others. This aspect worked and didn't work for me. On one hand, there's a very biased view on who was who, and who was good and bad, which helped complaint the rest of the story and the how the story represented some of the characters. On the other hand, some characters were overlooked, and I felt didn't get as much attention as they needed.

I did find the story started to lose me in the latter half of the book. While I enjoyed Kruger's journey in Mexico, I also found it dragged in parts. Although, I do think that part of the books did help shape his character further, I still found myself losing interest in the end.

Overall, it was an excellent read, and one of my favourite books so far this year.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Afterlands ( )
  bookwormjules | Jun 1, 2014 |
I love novels that draw on historical facts. This one is a rich tale following the incident of Arctic survival of the Polaris in 1817; crewmembers and passengers were stranded on an ice flow for six months and the book is about not only what goes on then, but also what takes place in their lives later on. Beautiful, suspenseful, harsh at times; lots of imagery. ( )
1 vote carioca | Mar 18, 2008 |
Since I have more interest in polar exploration, & none at all in the Spanish-American war, which is what the majority of this book pertains to, I did not even finish reading this book. I found the title, cover, & marketing of this book very misleading, & the book itself extremely boring. ( )
  TheCelticSelkie | Dec 3, 2007 |
A strange novel grasping after something that it knows it cannot catch: history, the suppressed voice of an indigenous woman surrounded by white culture, things that melt like ice floes. The strangeness of life on the floe, laid down in wrought language, stays with me. ( )
2 vote deliriumslibrarian | Apr 28, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618139346, Hardcover)

This gripping novel of Arctic survival, brilliantly written by an author who has been described as “a young Ondaatje,” is based on one of the most remarkable events in polar exploration. In 1871, off the coast of Greenland, nineteen men, women, and children, voyaging on the Arctic explorer USS Polaris, were cast adrift on a large ice floe as their ship began to founder. Afterlands is the story of this small society of castaways—a white and a black American, five Germans, a Dane, a Swede, an Englishman, and two Inuit families—as they try to survive a six-month winter ordeal, struggling with the harsh elements and with one another, the group splintering into factions along ethnic and national lines. Steven Heighton provocatively fills in the blanks of the documented history of this event by focusing on the suspicions, the hunger-induced delusions, and the unrequited longings among three members of the group: Roland Kruger, an educated, witty, rebellious German seaman; Tukulito, or “Hannah,” the party's Inuit interpreter; and George Tyson, the American ranking officer, who later wrote an account of the experience that solidified his reputation as a hero while casting Kruger as the villain. Throughout the novel, Heighton incorporates actual passages from Tyson’s contentious account, then daringly imagines the aftermath of the ordeal, following Kruger, Tukulito, and Tyson as they attempt to move beyond their searing memories and resume their lives in the larger world.
Combining the high drama of Arctic survival and the psychological intensity of modern theater, this beautifully written novel powerfully addresses themes of belonging, nationalism, and love in times of crisis.

Steven Heighton’s first novel, The Shadow Boxer, was chosen as a 2002 Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly and has been published in five countries. He is also the author of several books of poetry and short fiction. His work has received awards in Britain and Canada, has been translated into eight languages, and has been internationally anthologized. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Provides a fictional chronicle of the real-life ordeal of nineteen men, women, and children cast adrift on an ice floe off the coast of Greenland in 1871, as they struggle with the harsh elements and with each other.

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