The New York Times - Notable Books of 2013

more

A Marker to Measure Drift (2013)

Written by Alexander Maksik

A hypnotic, spellbinding novel set in Greece and Africa, where a young Liberian woman reckons with a haunted past.

On a remote island in the Aegean, Jacqueline is living alone in a cave accessible only at low tide. With nothing to protect her from the elements, and with the fabric between herself and the world around her increasingly frayed, she is permeated by sensory experiences of remarkable intensity: the need for shade in the relentless heat of the sun-baked island; hunger and the occasional bliss of release from it; the exquisite pleasure of diving into the sea. The pressing physical realities of the moment provide a deeper relief: the euphoric obliteration of memory and, with it, the unspeakable violence she has seen and from which she has miraculously escaped.

Slowly, irrepressibly, images from a life before this violence begin to resurface: the view across lush gardens to a different sea; a gold Rolex glinting on her father’s wrist; a glass of gin in her mother’s best crystal; an adoring younger sister; a family, in the moment before their fortunes were irrevocably changed. Jacqueline must find the strength to contend with what she has survived or tip forward into full-blown madness.

Visceral and gripping, extraordinary in its depiction of physical and spiritual hungers, Alexander Maksik’s A Marker to Measure Drift is a novel about ruin and faith, barbarism and love, and the devastating memories that contain the power both to destroy us and to redeem us. (Copyright © Knopf/Random House. All rights reserved.)

Source:  Penguin Random House Company.

Alexander Maksik is the author of the novels You Deserve Nothing (Europa, 2011) and A Marker to Measure Drift (Knopf, 2013).

His writing has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper’s, Tin House, Harvard Review, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Condé Nast Traveler, Salon and Narrative Magazine, among other publications and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the recipient of fellowships from the Truman Capote Literary Trust and The Corporation of Yaddo.

Close

Select Version you want to order