Imagining the Arctic

Francis Spufford said of Amy Sackville’s debut novel The Still Point: ‘If Virginia Woolf had had a younger sister with a passionate interest in icebergs, she might have written something like this beautiful, unearthly novel, in which the secrets of a house and of a marriage continually open out onto a wild glare of Arctic light.’

The book has been longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, alongside Hilary Mantel and Andrew Levy; it was also chosen as a Radio 4 Book at Bedtime. It takes place over the course of a single day in the present, underpinned by the story of a missing explorer at the turn of the twentieth century, whose wife awaits his return for decades.

In an exclusive BBC recording for, Amy talks about her inspiration for the book, and how she made such a fertile imaginary space out of a seemingly barren land. Click on the player below to listen:


Watch a
video interview
with Eleanor Catton, also longlisted for this year’s Orange Prize – for her debut novel The Rehearsal.

Granta 101
featured a photo essay of the Arctic by Gautier Deblonde. The haunting images showed abandoned Soviet research stations and awesome vistas, but also moments of life near the pole – human and otherwise. You can buy the issue

Francis Spufford
also contributed to Granta 77 and 67.

Author photo © Peter Schiazza

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