cover image Northernmost


Peter Geye. Knopf, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-65575-6

Geye’s finely wrought follow-up to Wintering continues his exploration of the Eide family in parallel narratives. Norwegian fisherman Odd Einar Eide makes a treacherous Arctic expedition in 1897. After he is gone for weeks, his neighbors and wife, Inger, assume he is dead, and he returns to his village of Hammerfest just in time to witness his own funeral. A journalist from Tromsø gets wind of Odd’s adventures and convinces him and Inger to travel to Tromsø to record his remarkable story of survival. Greta Nansen, Odd’s modern-day descendent in Minnesota, navigates the difficult terrain of a loveless marriage and pieces together her family history, living in the Minnesota fish house she refurbished that’s been part of the Eide family for generations, where she feels a visceral connection to the harsh winters. She ends up visiting Hammerfest, finding more than just answers about her family’s complex past. Geye captures Odd’s harrowing confrontation with an ice bear and his subsequent soul-searching as he faces the desolation of the Arctic, which is mirrored brilliantly in descriptions of the isolating emotional and psychological turmoil faced by Greta. While Geye stumbles through some chronological inconsistencies, the robust depiction of the bleak and beautiful northern Norway landscape and insightful descriptions of Odd’s and Greta’s inner lives are consistently impressive. This is a memorable, powerful tale of endurance and ancestral connection. Agent: Jesseca Salky, Salky Literary Management. (Aug.)