A ship trapped in Arctic pack ice with a pregnant stowaway on board is the setting for an essentially psychological novel.
THE SURFACING is set in the 1850s, on board an Admiralty ship searching for Franklin’s lost expedition. It’s an entirely male world – until Morgan, second-in-command of the Impetus, realises that there is a pregnant stowaway on board, and that he is the father. It is too late to turn back, the ice is closing in, and the child will have to be born into the wilderness of the remote Arctic.
“The great topic of Cormac James’s 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. […] James recognises the surfacing of love in the face of solitude. A stylish novel, full of music and quiet control. This is a writer that I’d like to see hurry – I’m looking forward already to the next book.” (Colum McCann)
“An extraordinary novel, combining a powerful narrative with a considered and poetic use of language in a way that is not often seen these days. Reading the book, I recalled the dramatic natural landscape of Jack London and the wild untamed seas of William Golding. Cormac James' writing is ambitious enough to be compared with either.” (John Boyne)
“Cormac James’s 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)