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Publication Year
Inuit women -- Fiction. Conduct of life -- Fiction. Conduct of life. 
Series Name
A child of the north spends six years in a southern sanatorium returns home to a changed world and there struggles to reconcile the new north with the old of her memory and the culture she has learned in the south. 
Publisher Comments
From Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize winner Kevin Patterson, an epic first novel of north and south, infused with stark beauty, startlingly realized characters and fierce truths.
Born on the tundra in the early 1950s, Victoria knows nothing but the nomadic hunting life of the Inuit until, at the age of ten, she is evacuated to a southern sanitarium for the treatment of tuberculosis. For six years she has no way to contact her parents. She grows healthy, learns Cree and English, becomes accustomed to books and radio, sunbathing and store-bought food. When she is finally sent home, she steps off the plane into a world that has changed radically. Even her father, Emo, a legendary hunter, has come in off the land to hunker in on Rankin Inlet at the edge of Hudson Bay. And Victoria herself has become a stranger to her family and her birth culture.

Vividly evoking the modern contradictions of the north — walrus meat and convenience foods, dog teams and diamond mines, midnight sun and 24-hour satellite TV — Patterson takes us into the heart of Victoria's internal exile, as she marries and raises a family. Many love her, but none can heal her. Not her son, who disdains the settled life she has bought for him and who struggles to be like his grandfather. Not her daughters, who embrace the pop culture of the south. Not her husband, Robertson, who slowly becomes estranged as he pursues the economic opportunities the north offers white men. Not her Inuit lover, who can offer her only glimpses of her lost childhood. And most especially not the local doctor, Balthazar, who has come to Rankin Inlet from New York City to escape scrutiny and seems fated to harm instead of heal.

When violence strikes Victoria's world, followed quickly by horrifying medical tragedy, Kevin Patterson shows how the tenuous bonds of friendship, love and family fly apart. And then at last, with great feeling, he evokes the unexpectedly tender ways in which the survivors struggle to their feet and carry on.

"Put Kevin Patterson's debut novel, Consumption, right at the top of your must-read list. This book is a staggeringly beautiful elegy for the traditional life of the Inuit, showing the inevitable loss when cultures collide... Consumption is not only a beautiful novel, but also an important one. Few people are in Patterson's position of knowledge and experience, and so readers are given a special opportunity to learn about the Inuit, the changes in their lives, and what those changes suggest for human beings in general." Edmonton Journal
"[The novel's] thematic resonance, along with an understated humanism reminiscent of Anton Chekhov (incidentally, another physician), make Consumption a quietly devastating novel." Vancouver Sun
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 Victorias 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, Consumption is an epic novel of the Arctic, and a penetrating portrait of generational division and cultural dissonance.

About the Author
KEVIN PATTERSON is the author of the memoir The Water In Between, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Country of Cold, his short fiction collection, won the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize, as well as the inaugural City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. He lives on Saltspring Island, Canada. 
Biblio Notes
Genre/Form: Domestic fiction
Material Type: Fiction
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Kevin Patterson

ISBN: 9780679314370 0679314377
OCLC Number: 69599477
Description: 394 p. ; 24 cm.
Responsibility: Kevin Patterson.  
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