The North Water by Ian McGuire

The North Water

Ian McGuire

A disgraced army doctor is appointed physician on a whaling vessel leaving Hull in 1859. Crewed by desperate men, with few redeeming features, with the declared sole aim of slaughtering whales. Other sinister motives become apparent as the story develops. Extremely cruel, violent, and disgusting including the language - this is a brilliantly descriptive and compulsively readable novel.

Extract

He wanders through squares and alleyways, past courtyard hovels and the houses of the rich. He has no idea which way is north or in what direction the dock now lies, but eventually, somehow he knows he will sniff his way back there. He has learned to stop thinking at such times and trust his instinct. Why Hull, for instance? Why fucking whaling? It makes no sense, and that is its great genius. The illogic of it, the near idiocy. Cleverness, he thinks, will get you nowhere, it is only the stupid, the brilliantly stupid, who will inherit the earth.

Parallels
  • Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex by Owen Chase
  • Shallows by Tim Winton
  • Peaky Blinders - TV series