The Long Exile Paperback – Oct 18 2007
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'[McGrath] offers a carefully imagined portrait of the appalling lives of the Inuit on Ellesmere Island. This is a story of official wrong-headedness and arrogance and McGrath relays it with compassion. The narrative is gripping.' Guardian 'A wealth of research underpins this harrowing tale, which is at once a lawyer's deposition and love letter to the icy world above the treeline.' Observer 'Melanie McGrath's tragic tale has an icy ring of truth that wrings the heart.' The Times 'Melanie McGrath is a gifted, passionate and sensitive story-teller and through her the authentic voice of the Arctic, not the clarion call of great white explorers, rings loud and clear. She gets right under the Inuit's seal-skin parkas; her research is meticulous, her touch is light, her understanding and invisibility are the absolute opposite of the years of foreign domination. Her play with language is disarming and original. Fresh, illuminating and heartbreaking history.' Sunday Telegraph 'Poignant and humane book. McGrath, who tracked down some of the survivors as well as traveling in the territory, tells an impressively researched and often poetic story.' Observer 'McGrath also has a wonderful feel for landscape and so the Arctic itself assumes the life of a character.The language is lovely. Modulated, lyrical and beautiful as the stark nature it describes, it makes McGrath's book more than a fascinating and instructive read. It makes it a joyful one.' Evening Standard
About the Author
Melanie McGrath is the author of two previous books, Motel Nirvana, and Hard, Soft & Wet. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Independent and the Express. She lives in Vauxhall, London.
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes, it's fascinating that the high arctic is actually a desert where the Inuit can't find enough snow to build a winter home. Yes, it's fascinating that this whole fifty year story has a common thread through Robert Flaherty and his Nanook of the North, Yes, it's astonishing that anyone can live in these conditions - and how they do it is both spellbinding and heartrending. But the political aspects are at least as horrifying, especially in seemingly peaceloving, friendly Canada.
This is an excellent book for more reasons than a snowy cover would indicate.
This is the story of Robert Flaherty's famous film "Nanook of the North," and the child, Joseph, he fathered (but never recognized) while living among the Inuit. Thirty years after the film was released to mammoth acclaim, the Canadian government forcibly relocated three dozen Inuit, Joseph Flaherty and his family among them, from the east coast of Hudson Bay to a region of the high arctic 1,200 miles farther north.
Whereas the area they came from was rich in caribou, arctic foxes, whales,seals, pink saxifrage and heather, their destination was Ellesmere Island, an arid, desolate landscape of shale and ice virtually devoid of life, and certainly not the promised land of abundant game and spring flowers they had been promised. The most northerly landmass on the planet, Ellesmere is blanketed in darkness for four months of the year. There the exiles were left to live on their own with little government support and few provisions.
The reasons for the relocation were, in large part, political: Canada hoped the presence of Inuit on Ellesmere Island would discourage Greenland, Denmark or the United States from staking a claim to the island.Read more ›