Literary Criticism and Significance

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 447

Far North is Marcel Theroux’s fourth novel. It has been mostly well received both commercially and critically. Far North was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clark Award, one of the most prestigious awards given for science fiction; it was also a finalist for the National Book Award, one of the most prestigious awards given for literature. Critics tend to praise Theroux for his absorbing plot and for Makepeace’s terse voice. Far North is, however, often criticized for its resolution.

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Far North stands out among Theroux’s fiction for its post-apocalyptic setting. Although Theroux has discussed themes of death and loss in earlier novels like A Blow to the Heart and the critically acclaimed The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes: A Paperchase, his previous novels are more properly considered literature than post-apocalyptic or speculative fiction. Still, Makepeace’s adventure to find civilization has earned Theroux comparisons to some of the most acclaimed post-apocalyptic novels of the 21st century, including Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Road and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

On the other hand, critics tended to point out that Far North fell short of McCarthy’s achievements. Writing for Telegraph, Tim Martin argues that the second half of Far North “feels rushed and out of step with the reflective tone of the rest of the book.” Jeff VanderMeer, writing for The New York Times, points out that parts of the ending—particularly Eben Callard’s reappearance—feel contrived. He criticizes the “sentimental, far-fetched rebirth motif.” Although critics tended to praise Theroux for his creation of Makepeace, his other characters mostly serve to move her through the plot.

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(The entire section contains 447 words.)

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