The Surfacing

By Cormac James

Format: Paperback

THE SURFACING is set largely on board a ship in the 1850s, searching for Franklin's lost expedition. It's a challenging and dangerous endeavour in a very male world - that is until Morgan, the second-in-command of the Impetus, realises there is a pregnant stowaway on board and that he is the father.

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Sandstone Press Ltd

Sandstone Press was established in 2002 based on the firm belief that an international publishing house could be based in the Highlands of Scotland. We publish fiction and non-fiction books and ebooks. The company is characterised by high editorial and design standards, internationalism, and a strong engagement with the contemporary world using modern methods. Sandstone Press books have won or been shortlisted for many literary prizes including the Man Booker, Commonwealth, Arthur C Clarke, Creative Scotland, Green Carnation, Saltire Society, Petrona, Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition, Boardman Tasker, Not the Booker, and Desmond Elliott Awards.

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THE SURFACING is set largely on board a ship in the 1850s, searching for Franklin's lost expedition. It's a challenging and dangerous endeavour in a very male world - that is until Morgan, the second-in-command of the Impetus, realises 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 vast and icy wilderness of the Arctic. The men, especially the ship's doctor, DeHaven, and the second in command, Lieutenant Morgan, have doubts about the judgement of their captain, and soon their own vessel becomes trapped in the remote Arctic. THE SURFACING is in places quite literally breathtaking. It is a powerful novel of isolation and impasse, resilience and resistance, exploring the battle between man and an unforgiving environment, and the struggle between the sexes. The power of ambition, what drives human beings to take outrageous physical risks, the nature of courage, and of love - in an unforgettable setting, often bleak, sometimes beautiful, always conveyed in brilliant, keenly pared prose.


And in addition to Kitty and Morgan and the rest of the crew, the ice itself forms an extraordinary character in its own right - sometimes shifting, sometimes stubborn, mostly treacherous.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Sandstone Press Ltd
Publication Date 18 Sep 2014
ISBN 9781908737984
Number of Pages 352

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Press Reviews

'Cormac James's writing is very assured, with a harsh poetic edge. His evocations of barren landscape, sea weather, pack ice, frozen skies are terrific. He takes the reader there.' Rose Tremain '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, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas '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. James recognises the surfacing of love in the face of solitude. It's a remarkable achievement, 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

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