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The Incomparable Atuk

3.09  ·  Rating details ·  292 Ratings  ·  23 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
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by New Canadian Library (first published 1963)
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Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fic-lit, comedy
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
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Richler is the master of dark humor and satire. While not as good as his other novels, TIA is still a fun read that will make you laugh. The Native American Jewish analogy really hit home with me. I actually wrote a paper on this same idea last semester on Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers, so, its still fresh in my mind. I read most of this on public transit, finishing it last night at 4 and half drunk (Hell Yeah Nuit Blanche all you Montrealers!) and Richler's short-to-the-point writing is perf ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Apr 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
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
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: can-lit, humour
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.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Smart satire. A good, quick read, but still very entertaining. Actually came across this after reading about the supposed "curse" associated with the attempted film adaptation. (Several actors associated with it at various points, all died: John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy and Chris Farley.)
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.

Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Cynics, (european) liberals,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Friederike Knabe
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
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
Jim Leckband
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it
A book length "Modest Proposal" on what would happen if Canada really acted out its anti-American attitudes but tried to keep its tried and true Canadian values of bigotry, greed and boorishness while still trying to help those inferior to themselves (condescension intended).

Not content to be labelled as a self-hating Jew by critics for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Richler sought to broaden his reach and go for the self-hating Canadian medal as well. That would be to "Stick Your Neck Out
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uni-reading
This book was ... interesting, to say the least. I think I missed quite a few references while reading that fit in with its background of Canada in 1963, but most of it was inferrable.

The comments on the back and in the introduction classify it as black humour, and they are very very right. It was actually hard to stomach at times and in my opinion went a little far more than once. A lot of scenes though were very provoking and are still relevant today. Communism and an atomic war may not be a g
Troy Parfitt
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Allison Jones
I was drawn in by the title (I'd never heard of this Mordecai Richler book), the slim volume, & the unusual premise. It was an okay read, but nothing life-changing for me. I appreciate Mr. Richler's ability to balance multiple characters' dialogue and subplots & infuse humour into the mix, but I'm left rather underwhelmed overall.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Short, chaotic and sweet. A very sharp, enjoyable book – a product of its time and evidence of its author's skill, insight, and humour.
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Satire that does not age well. What was funny in the sixties is not necessarily funny or witty today.
Tyler Jones
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
While I really like Mordecai Richler, this book is just a weak attempt to write like Terry Southern.

Don't bother.
Aug 02, 2010 marked it as to-read
Albatrosu Purpuriu
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Light, fresh and witty humor.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sharp, satirical humour poked at 1960s Canada and its mores and personalities. (Some of it still quite relevant!)
David Smith
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Imagine an Inuit Conservative Party leader.
Jeffrey Stalk
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Amy Rutherford
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May 30, 2012
Matt Randle
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Dec 21, 2015
Jane Griscti
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Apr 11, 2011
James Campbell
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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.
“I'm world-famous,” Dr. Parks said, “all over Canada.” 9 likes
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