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Far North A Novel

Marcel Theroux




Trade Paperback

320 Pages


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A National Book Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Out on the frontier of a failed state, a plane crashes at the edge of an abandoned city. Sheriff Makepeace, the city's last citizen, resolves to go in search of the plane's origins and what is left of a world ravaged by climate change and war. In this startling, post-apocalyptic landscape, Makepeace encounters violent stockaded villages, irradiated cities, and work camps laboring to harness the technologies of a vanished civilization. Far North is "an absorbing end-of-days fable" (GQ), and an adventure through an unforgettable land, in the company of a remarkable hero for our times.


Praise for Far North

"In Marcel Theroux's postcollapse novel, Far North, global warming has reduced civilization to largely preindustrial levels of technology and made sparsely populated areas like the Siberian tundra safer than lawless cities. There's a satisfying sadness and finality to Theroux's vision, but the story's true power comes from the hard-won victories of its remarkable narrator, Makepeace. 'A person is always better than a book,' Makepeace claims, and the novel's enduring achievement is to give us a protagonist who lives up to that claim."—Jeff Vandermeer, The New York Times Book Review

"Far North may well be the first great cautionary fable of climate change. Marcel Theroux's homespun tale about a solitary frontier survivor conjures up a monolithic world that's ominous and deeply memorable. He depicts a bleak Earth transformed, perhaps a century or two from now, by global warming and a society reduced to a mostly empty, radioactive husk; the remnant peoples are violent, ignorant and few and far between. Against the gray backdrop of abandoned towns, poisoned cities and occasional wildlife, a tough, hardy frontierswoman named Makepeace struggles to eke out a living on the strange and swiftly changing land . . . If Far North gets off to a bit of a slow start, its caution is forgivable: In depicting a devastated planet, Theroux clearly wanted to avoid the expository shorthand of much speculative and science fiction by easing into his world. And that restraint pays off; we stay close to Makepeace through the cruelty of her physical hardships, the falling away of all companions and the perpetual solitude that would be unbearable to read from a more melodramatic writer. Makepeace's end-of-the-world diary has substance and snatches of lovely sadness, as when she sees the migration of tropical animals into the now-green, formerly snowy wastes of Siberia . . . What makes Far North so credible is precisely the elusiveness of its revelations, the imperfection of Makepeace's understanding of her world, of the complex physical and social revolutions that brought her people to this post-apocalyptic pass. In the chaos of a dying civilization, nothing is lost so easily as the knowledge of history. And no detail in the story rings quite so true to contemporary American life as the fact that Makepeace, who begins and ends this tale scrounging in the rubble for ancient books to preserve for posterity, also has zero interest in reading them."—Lydia Millet, The Washington Post

"70,000 settlers from the US and elsewhere have travelled to Siberia to make that most inhospitable of places their home. As climate change had made the summers longer and the winters milder, it seemed a smart alternative to the old, crowded, decaying cities. Yet this new dawn is more like a throwback sunset: in the face of disaster, civilisation's fragile attempts to build cities collapse into slave camps, frontier-style lawlessness and brutality. Far North is that unusual thing, a work of literary science fiction. It is The Handmaid's Tale meets Huckleberry Finn and High Plains Drifter. This new twist on dystopia is compellingly icy."—New Scientist

"A suspenseful, gripping vision of catastrophe wrought by the warring human impulses of greed and imagination."—The Dallas Morning News

"Theroux is a master storyteller, and the narrative is as full of surprises as it is of murders. And in Makepeace he's created the moral centre of a heartless world: hardened by . . . experiences [yet] capable of great courage, friendship and loyalty, so that the bleak vision of this novel contains a glint of consolation."—Brandon Robshaw, The Independent on Sunday (five stars)

"How refreshing to meet Makepeace Hatfield, who faces a world gone wild with hope, humor, and a scrappy tenacity that manages to find beauty in a ravaged arctic landscape, and hangs on to humanity against all odds."—Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness

"It's a great pleasure to fall into the pages of a natural-born storyteller. If you're looking for an unforgettable character, your search ends here."—Russell Hoban, author of Riddley Walker

"Imaginative and extremely well written."—Kate Saunders, The Times (London)

"An atmospheric tale of a near-future dystopia . . . One for fans of Margaret Atwood."—The Evening Standard

"Marcel Theroux delivers a masterly sleight-of-hand . . . and after the third chapter deftly pulls the rug from under the reader's feet. I was completely duped. It is set in a cruel Siberian landscape that is dotted with slave camps and where 'human beings are rat-cunning and will happily kill you twice over for a hot meal.' This is an action-packed, dystopian adventure story with cracking set pieces."—Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

"Theroux's postapocalyptic road novel will inevitably be compared to that other postapocalyptic road novel Oprah liked, and while Theroux (son of Paul) is not the existential stylist McCarthy is, he is a superior plotter. Global warming has decimated civilization, and narrator Makepeace Hatfield is the sole survivor of her Siberian settlement. After coming across another survivor and seeing a plane in the sky, Makepeace heads out to find other settlements. Unfortunately, Horeb, the first settlement she finds, is Hobbesian, and the camp's leader, Reverend Boathwaite, sells her into a slave gang. Marched a thousand miles west to an old gulag, Makepeace spends five years as a slave and eventually escapes after she's dispatched as a slave-guard to a ravaged city now known as the Zone. Teaming up with another escaped slave, the two try to trek back to Makepeace's original home, but tragedy strikes again . . . Theroux succeeds in crafting a wildly eccentric and intelligent page-turner that's ultimately and strangely hopeful."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Every day I buckle on my guns and go out to patrol this dingy city.

I've been doing it so long that I'm shaped to it, like a hand that's been carrying buckets in the cold.


Read the full excerpt



  • Far North by Marcel Theroux--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Marcel Theroux's novel Far North, a National Book Award Finalist for Fiction. Out on the frontier of a failed state, Makepeace—sheriff and perhaps last citizen—patrols a city's ruins, salvaging books but keeping the guns in good repair.



  • Marcel Theroux

  • Marcel Theroux is the author of three previous novels and the winner of the 2002 Somerset Maugham Award. He is also a documentary filmmaker and television presenter. He lives in London.

  • Marcel Theroux Sarah Lee
    Marcel Theroux




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