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The Incomparable Atuk

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  186 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Transplanted to Toronto from his native Baffin Island, Atuk the poet is an unlikely overnight success. Eagerly adapting to a society steeped in pretension, bigotry, and greed, Atuk soon abandons the literary life in favour of more lucrative – and hazardous – schemes.

Richler’s hilarious and devastating satire lampoons the self-deceptions of “the Canadian identity” and derid
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Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by New Canadian Library (first published 1963)
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Daniel Kukwa
A ridiculously over-the-top little sherrick of a novel. It always amazes me to read Mordecai Richler's earliest works, and find that his sharp satire of Canadian society, Canadian culture, Canadian (and intellectual) inferiority complexes and ethnic-ghettoization can be so simultaneously biting AND hilarious. In fact, this one verges on zany, as he tries to throw everything into the mix, including the proverbial kitchen sink. Think of this book as a diamond-in-the-rough dry run for his more succ ...more
Friederike Knabe
Biting satire and black humour characterize this short novella about an Inuit poet who leaves his remote community for a visit to the big city, Toronto. Having been discovered by a fur trader, his poem had reached such popularity among the city folks that they wanted to see the "Eskimo" from Baffin Bay in person. Atuk, however, finds urban life so rich, in many different ways, that he decides to stay. Initially he may come across as an innocent fool, easily exploited and controlled by his "benef ...more
Cynthia
The message of this book rings true today - the hypocrisy of Canadians who strive to differentiate themselves from Americans by honouring Canadian culture regardless of its quality. Of course we have some very high quality art and culture, but let's face it, certain tv shows that would never have made it through a season in the US are still with us years later - cough, cough, Corner Gas. And while I love the Group of Seven too, if I see their art bastardized on one more set of coasters or placem ...more
Jay Szpirs
It is a stunning thing when a writer as practiced, precise, and methodical as Richler gives the 'South Park' treatment to the national myths of the day. Although couched in language that is unarguably antiquated and with a sensibility that is sure to ruffle the feathers of more sensitive modern readers, Richler's critique of who we (Canadians) think we are is still poignant and, largely, valid.

'Atuk' is the story of an "Eskimo" poet (already, the language of the novel dates it. Racist terminolog
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Matthijs
Mar 27, 2010 Matthijs rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cynics, (european) liberals,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judith (Judith'sChoiceReads)


Goodreads Summary

Transplanted to Toronto from his native Baffin Island, Atuk the poet is an unlikely overnight success. Eagerly adapting to a society steeped in pretension, bigotry, and greed, Atuk soon abandons the literary life in favour of more lucrative – and hazardous – schemes.

Richler’s hilarious and devastating satire lampoons the self-deceptions of “the Canadian identity” and derides the hypocrisy of a nation that seeks cultural independence by slavishly pursuing the American dream.


My R
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Meaghan
Richler's satire is at its most unsubtle in this early novel.
Craig
The Incomparable Atuk is showing it's age but it's a good satire. An Inuit moves to Toronto and the whole fish out of water displacement follows with the artists and high society types. Largely a statement about the silliness of media and the dichotomous psyche of Toronto, (alternately bravado and fragility) this book has a lot to say about culture, race and the Canadian ego confronting American saturation.
Troy Parfitt
Humour is just a funny way of saying something serious. Mordecai Richler's The Incomparable Atuk is a riotously humourous (and accurate) take on (or poke at) Canadian "national culture," special pleading, interest groups, political correctness, dense Americans, sanctimonious Canadians, human corruption, Toronto, you name it. Not a book for people who don't find humour funny.
Jeffrey Stalk
I read this a long, long time ago -- long before the internet-- but I still remember it as one of the funniest books I have ever read.
1.1
Short, chaotic and sweet. A very sharp, enjoyable book – a product of its time and evidence of its author's skill, insight, and humour.
Colin
Satire that does not age well. What was funny in the sixties is not necessarily funny or witty today.
Megan
When I originally read this, I called it "hilarious" and "an unbelievable ending".
David Smith
Imagine an Inuit Conservative Party leader.
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Aug 02, 2010 Ibis3 marked it as to-read
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Mordecai Richler, was a Canadian author, screenwriter and essayist.

His best known works are The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959) and Barney's Version (1997); his 1989 novel Solomon Gursky Was Here was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1990. He was also well known for the Jacob Two-Two children's stories. .

The son of a Jewish scrap yard dealer, Richler was born in 1931 and raised on St
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More about Mordecai Richler...
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz Barney's Version Solomon Gursky Was Here Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang St. Urbain's Horseman

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