A Novel

Book - 2007
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In Rankin Inlet, a small town bordering the Arctic Ocean, the lives of the Inuit are gradually changing. The caribou and seals are no longer plentiful, and Western commerce has come to the community through a proposed diamond mine. Victoria Robertson wakes to a violent storm, her three children stirring in the dark. Her father, Emo, a legendary hunter who has come in off the land to work in a mine, checks to see if the family is all right. So does her Inuit lover, as Victoria's British husband is away on business. Thus the reader enters into the modern contradictions of the Arcticwalrus meat and convenience food, midnight sun and 24-hour satellite TV, dog teams and diamond minesand into the heart of Victoria's internal exile. Born on the tundra in the 1950s, Victoria knows nothing but the nomadic life of the Inuit until, at the age of ten, she is diagnosed with tuberculosis and evacuated to a southern sanitarium. When she returns home six years later, she finds a radically different world, where the traditionally rootless tribes have uneasily congregated in small communities. And Victoria has become a stranger to her family and her culture. Victoria compounds her marginalization by marrying a non-Inuit, Robertson, the manager of the town store. Over the years, as her children gravitate toward the pop culture of the mainland, and as her husband aggressively exploits the economic opportunities that the Arctic offers, Victoria feels torn between her family and her ancestors, between the communal life of the North and the material life of the "South." Through Victoria, Kevin Patterson deftly exposes the costs and consequences of cultural assimilation, and the emotional toll that such significant lifestyle changes take on communities. Spanning countries, generations, and cultures,Consumptionis an epic novel of the Arctic, and a penetrating portrait of generational division and cultural dissonance.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese, c2007.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780385520744
Characteristics: 384 p. ; 25 cm.


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Jan 31, 2015

Truly loved this book. Very in-depth characters, great and unusual plot -- outstanding setting. I learned a lot, which I like, but the writing didn't make it seem "preachy" or even "teachy"

May 22, 2012

Consumption is not what I expected, but pleasantly surprised in reading it.

Get to know Victoria and her family, as they are, living in the harsh Arctic in 1950s being self-sufficient on the land (ice) with their nomadic tendencies. With contact of the "Southerners", they learn that Victoria is ill and must go South to a sanatorium in order to recover. During her stay there, she finally recovers, but heartbreak follows her.

Years later she is sent back to her village, to parents, who thought she was dead and where home isn't home anymore. She is constant struggle between her 'old' world and her 'new' self. The old way of things vs. modern technology and devices from the "Southerners" that is influencing their community and dividing its members with affluence.

Get to know the other characters of Rankin Inlet and beyond to show similiarities in culture clash and challenges of living to where we will all be consumed in one manner or another. But, also of the opportunity of reconnecting to each other

jaelle May 07, 2012

I don't know why this book was on my reading list, perhaps because it was a Butler Book Prize award winner.
But I enjoyed it very much, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about our Northern First Nations People.
I found it sad and enlightening at the same time.

brianreynolds Feb 18, 2012

Kevin Patterson's Consumption is rich in information about the Arctic, the Inuit, the transition that contact has forced upon them especially in last half century, the medical problems facing not only people of the north but humankind over the past several centuries. For those people who read fiction for information about new places and people, this should wash. I enjoyed the book on that level as well. For anyone looking for a good novel, there is lots that a reader has to forgive beginning with multiple points of view all peering out of the same rather colourless minimalist glasses. At the start we are led to believe that the central character is an Inuit woman who, though medical circumstances, loses her culture and tries to find some reasonable accommodation in a rapidly changing north. That story gets hijacked by a equally engrossing tale of capitalism versus democracy or history or foolish pride. Which in turn becomes a story of murder and of men and women surviving against an unforgiving nature. In the end we discover the real story might be the guilt trip of a kindly, narcotic thief, doctor who is finally able to put everything into (his own) perspective. What cobbles it all together, however, is a fascinating collection of facts, argument, and theory, none of it fiction.

Oct 12, 2011

Simply the best Canadian novel I have read in 45 years of reading. Every reader I know has received this novel for birthdays the last few years. 1 complaint: there are 2 editions & the contents are juggled in The Other edition - the one with this cover is the good one. Excellent work by an unappreciated writer.

Mar 25, 2011

Lives on Salt Spring Island, was a medic in Afghanistan. Spoke on NPR 3/25 of different stages of development and the health problems that become prevalent.


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