Kathleen Winter, Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage (London: Jonathan Cape, 2015)

by howkins

Very nicely written account of a tourist voyage through the Northwest Passage on board the Clipper Adventurer in summer 2010. Part travelogue, part memoir the novelist Kathleen Winter was clearly profoundly affected by her experience of the Arctic. Winter moved from England to Canada at the age of eight, and the book reflects on questions of identity and belonging. It frequently returns to the question of colonialism, and what it means to claim and possess territory in the Arctic (it refers to the English as Marmalados as a consequence of their tendency to take bright, exotic things – such as Seville Oranges – back to England). Towards the end of the book there is a very interesting discussion of the problems inherent to the term “Northwest Passage,” which implies that the definition comes from outside and that the place itself is only of utility for passing through. Following this discussion, it would have been good if Winter had explained why she continues to use this term in the book’s title. Lots of similarities with Jenny Diski’s Skating to Antarctica.