Saturday, 30 November 2013

Book Review: A Dream in Polar Fog

A Dream in Polar FogA Dream in Polar Fog by Yuri Rytkheu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People often say when they enjoy a book that they're sorry when it's over. I rarely say that because I'm always anticipating the next book I'll read!
With this historical novel, however, I really was sorry when it was over because I doubt I'll ever read a book like it again.
The author, Yuri Rytkheu, grew up in a traditional Chukchi settlement in Siberia in the early 20th century when that way of life was already fast disappearing. He wrote this novel in 1968.
The story follows a Canadian sailor who is seriously injured on a voyage and left behind in a Chukchi village. He adapts to his strange surroundings and comes to accept and eventually love his new life. Rytkheu uses his outsider protagonist as a way to explain the Chukchi way of life and cosmology. We're given a sympathetic, authoritative view into a culture vastly different than our own, shown with a sympathetic but not rose-tinted view. The story is well told and there are some beautiful passages about the Arctic landscape. Anyone interested in the far north or simply a good read would do well to hunt down this book.
Sadly, as far as I can tell Rytkheu never wrote another novel. He did write a few nonfiction books on his people that have been translated and I'm planning on hunting those down.

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Rita A. said...

Thank you for sharing. This sounds marvelous.

Sioux said...

Sean--There have been a few one-of-a-kind books that have saddened me when I come to their conclusion.

"A Dream in Polar Fog" sounds intriguing. I enjoy books that take me to another place or another era...

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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