The North Water is a 2016 novel by English author and academic Ian McGuire. McGuire's focus of study and field of interest is American realist literature which is defined as, "...the faithful representation of reality"  The Guardian's reviewer writes, "The strength of The North Water lies in its well-researched detail and persuasive descriptions of the cold, violence, cruelty and the raw, bloody business of whale-killing." The headline of the Independent Book Review "Ian McGuire, The North Water: 'Subtle as a harpoon in the head, but totally gripping', book review" reinforces the realist aspect of the writing. The North Water was published by Henry Holt and Company (USA) and Simon & Schuster (UK)/Scribner (UK).
The north water of the title is the North Water Polynya, to which ships sail in the hunt to harvest whales. The novel opens in Hull where the industry is under threat with paraffin and coal oil replacing whale oil. We meet Henry Drax a harpooner who rapes and kills a child, "... a brute, a vacuum into which men and boys are sucked and do not emerge alive". Joining as ships doctor is Irishman Patrick Sumner a disgraced former British army surgeon with a murky past in India. They set sail on the Volunteer under Captain Brownlee who lost his last ship and crew and in league with the owner Baxter intends to scuttle the Volunteer in an insurance scam.
Awards and honors
- 2016 Man Booker Prize, longlisted.
- 2016 New York Times 10 Best Books of 2016
- 2016 Shortlisted Los Angeles Times Book Prize Mystery/Thriller
- 2016 On the Chicago Tribune list of Best Books of the Year
- 2017 Royal Society of Literature Encore Award
The North Water has been adapted into a BBC Two five-part television serial. It will premiere on July 15, 2021 on AMC+ (USA). In the UK The North Water (TV series) will air autumn 2021 on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It stars Colin Farrell as Henry Drax, Jack O'Connell as Patrick Sumner, Stephen Graham as Captain Brownlee, and Tom Courtenay as Baxter. Commissioned by the BBC, The North Water (TV series) is made by See-Saw Films for the BBC and is adapted and directed by Andrew Haigh. Executive producers are Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman for See-Saw Films, Niv Fichman for Rhombus Media, and Jo McClellan for the BBC. The series was produced by Kate Ogborn. The North Water is distributed internationally by BBC Studios.
- "Man Booker prize 2016: the longlist – in pictures". The Guardian. 27 July 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- "Dr Ian McGuire". University of Manchester. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Realism in American Literature, 1860-1890". Washington State University. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "The North Water by Ian McGuire review – a voyage into the heart of darkness 19 February 2016". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Ian McGuire, The North Water: 'Subtle as a harpoon in the head, but totally gripping', book review 9 February 2016". Independent. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- "Review: In 'The North Water,' a Journey to the Arctic Turns Cutthroat". New York Times. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- Alice (27 July 2016). "Man Booker Prize announces 2016 longlist". Man Booker. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
- "The 10 Best Books of 2016". New York Times. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "L.A. Times Book Prize finalists include Zadie Smith and Rep. John Lewis; Thomas McGuane will be honored". Los Angeles Times. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
- "Best books of 2016". Chicago Tribune. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
- "Royal Society of Literature Encore Award 2017" (PDF). Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 3 June 2017.