A Dream in Polar Fog
By Yuri Rytkheu, translated by Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse
Paperback: 337 pages
Publisher: Archipelago Books (September 1, 2006)
Setting: Russian Arctic Circle
A Dream in Polar Fog is at once a cross-cultural journey, an ethnographic chronicle of the Chukchi people, and a politically and emotionally charged Arctic adventure story. Both elegant and exciting, it serves as a living anthropology of a gone world. It accomplishes everything a novel should.
A Kiriyama Prize Notable Book For 2006
About the author:
In the 1950s Yuri Rytcheu emerged as not only a writer of considerable literary talent, but as the unique voice of a small national minority. His fiction about Chukotka and the people who inhabit the extreme north of Siberia introduced readers to their history and mythology. Born in Belarus, translator Chavasse came to the US with her family in 1989. She studied English at Vassar and Oxford, and at University College London.
Thousands of books have been written about the Arctic aborigines by intruders from the south. Yuri Rytkheu has turned the skin inside out and written about the way the Arctic people view outsiders. A Chukchi himself, Yuri writes with passion, strength, and beauty of a world we others have never understood. A splendid book.
Rarely has humanity’s relationship to nature been so beautifully and vividly depicted . . . It recalls, in both substance and style, the best work of Jack London and Herman Melville, and it is a novel in the grandest sense of the word.
A Dream in Polar Fog gave me the same haunting and powerful reading experience as did Melville's travel fictions. Yuri Rytkheu is a world-class writer. Part lyrical ethnography, part uncanny adventure movie, part historical saga, part spectral tone poem, this novel miraculously brings Siberia to the center of our lives.
Amazon Reader Reviews
What it means to be human
This is one of my favorite books. The characters will capture you, and you will be transported to a different culture and time period. This book makes you think about what it means to be human.
Simple, stoic, serene
I recommend this remarkable book to anyone interested in the culture of people living in far off corners of the world. The novel gives an insight in the Chukchi community. A look at the map in northeast Siberia will give an idea of the remoteness of the Chuktoka Region where Chukchi’s live. The author of the novel hails from Chuktoka Region. In this novel he has woven a beautiful narrative and rich ethnographic detail .
A story that draws you in, a world as different as you can imagine. Extreme yet enticing. A great read.
Beautifully written, spare and poignant
This is a real gem of a book! Written about a native community in the Arctic, the reader is captivated by the splendor of the landscape, the warmth of the people, and one man's struggle to adapt.
This was an unusual and interesting book that got deeply and empathetically into a very extreme lifestyle. it's written in a naïve style, and being translated from the Russian sometimes gives it an alien quality, but it's a valuable experience.