Saturday, December 22, 2012

Five best books on life and travels in the Arctic

M. J. (Melanie) McGrath is a journalist and an author of several books of nonfiction, including The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic. She was awarded the John Llewlyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday Award for best British author under thirty-five. She lives and works in London. The recently released The Boy in the Snow is her second novel featuring half-Caucasian, half-Inuit Edie Kiglatuk.

For the Wall Street Journal, McGrath named a five best list of books on life and travels in the Arctic. One title on the list:
Ada Blackjack
by Jennifer Niven (2004)

One of the greatest Arctic (mis)adventure stories you've never heard of and a wonderful foil to the more familiar derring-do of Robert Peary and Roald Amundsen. In 1921, in a vainglorious, frankly nutty bid to claim the territory for Canada (which didn't want it), four men and one woman—Ada Blackjack, a young, hard-drinking Inuit woman —set out for Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic. Two years later only one returned. Jennifer Niven uses contemporary documents and Blackjack's own diary to reconstruct the often terrifying events of those two years, events that were both tightly managed and exploited afterward by the expedition's sponsor, who played up the glamour of Arctic exploration and the valor of his men while suppressing Blackjack's account of their desperate resort to cannibalism. Blackjack, who only took the job as the expedition's cook to pay for her son's tuberculosis treatment, turns out to be the most unlikely of heroines, but also one of the most admirable.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue