The Cartographer of No Man’s Land

P.S. Duffy. Norton/Liveright, $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-87140-376-6
Duffy’s first novel explores the circles of hell opened up by war, both on the actual war front and at home. Angus MacGrath leaves his beloved Nova Scotia to enlist in WWI and find his missing brother-in-law, Ebbin, defying Angus’s pacifist father. A sailor with a deft hand for sketching and painting, Angus expects to serve as a cartographer in London, but instead is sent to the front lines in France as an officer. Facing the possibility of his own death and witnessing the deaths of the men around him daily, he changes in ways he couldn’t have imagined. At home, his 13-year-old son, Simon Peter, deals with his own revelations about loyalty, prejudice, and connection. The novel takes a series of surprising plot turns, sometimes leaving the reader wondering how much actually happened and how much was imagined by the characters to protect themselves from horrific realities. Physical and emotional geography are beautifully rendered, and Duffy’s vivid descriptions illuminate war’s transformative effect in fresh ways. Well-nuanced characters and carefully choreographed (but still surprising) situations make this a strong debut. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-14-318686-1
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-87140-760-3
Paperback - 371 pages - 978-0-87140-777-1
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