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1001 book reviews > Surfacing - Atwood

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3820 comments Mod
read 2010
A story of an unnamed protagonist as she journeys back home in search of her missing father and into madness. I enjoyed the description of Quebec, so much like my home town area. The book is set sometime after the war and sounds like the hippy generation so I think sometime after Vietnam but also could be the beatnik generation. It seemed a little dated because of this. The book also covers separation or isolation from others and search for identity and national identity. There is also a strong environmental theme.

Diane Zwang | 1189 comments Mod
3 stars. Read in 2015

Margaret Atwood seems to be an author that you love or hate, I love her. Even though I did not love Surfacing, I did not hate it either. I think she is a brilliant author and I like reading her prose. Surfacing is about an unnamed narrator who goes in search for her lost father on a remote island in northern Quebec with her boyfriend and another couple. The first half of the novel introduces you to the characters and the second half shows you who they really are. The second half delves more into the past of the characters and deals primarily with the female characters. “Saving the world, everyone wants to; men think they can do it with guns, women with their bodies, love conquers all, conquerors love all, mirages raised by words.” I read this as a coming-of-age story of the narrator. “From any rational point of view I am absurd; but there are no longer any rational points of view.” It is only my second Atwood book and I look forward to reading more of her novels.

Valerie Brown | 503 comments read May 2020

Compared to most of the books I’ve been reading lately, this definitely falls on the ‘literature’ side of the continuum. It is very readable though.

This is a very Canadian novel, although a past Canada. There are so many underlying issues from that time (social and political) that are not referred to specifically but influence the character’s behaviour and thoughts. Canada is a different place now, but if you were alive or growing up during the 60s, 70s and 80s you will recognize them easily. The novel probably takes place in the late 60s, but I still could identify with and be annoyed by them having experienced similar attitudes in the late 70s/early 80s. Revisiting that time really makes me appreciate how much things have changed (generally for the better). In a way, this may be the most interesting thing about this novel – it is a real snapshot of a country’s past. As well, there is a real sense of place – this story could not have been set anywhere else.

In some ways the story is very straightforward and could be read and appreciated that way. However, I felt Atwood’s approach was much more oblique and you have to struggle, along with the main character, to understand exactly what was going on. 4*

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