Born and raised in the Arctic, Cutuk Hawcley has learned to provide for himself by hunting, fishing, and trading. And yet in spite of his respect for the indigenous hunters who have taught him how to survive, he is jeered and pummeled by Inupiaq children. When he leaves for the city as a young man, incompatible realities collide, forcing Cutuk to choose between two worlds, both seemingly bent on rejecting him.
Acclaimed as “the first contemporary Alaska novel that seems true, the first one that matters” (Nick Jans), “a magnificently realized story” (New York Times), and “a rare thing of beauty” (Los Angeles Times), Ordinary Wolves depicts a life different from what most of us have known: inhuman cold, the taste of rancid salmon shared with shivering sled dogs, hunkering in a sod igloo while blizzards moan overhead.
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Praise and Prizes
“Once in a great while a novel comes along that can shiver right down your bones and show you the world was always larger than you knew. This is just such an astonishing book: exotic as a dream, acrid and beautiful and honest as life.”
“A magnificently realized story . . . Smart and authentic . . . Ordinary Wolves has scope and a style to match its subjects, the wide-open spaces of Alaska and youth. . . . It’s hard to imagine a better start.”
“I’ve not read anything that so captures the contrast between the wild world and our ravaging consumer culture. Ordinary Wolves is painful and beautiful.”
“Seth Kantner writes beautifully, but what’s special about Ordinary Wolves is the author’s unflinching portrayal of Alaska’s social dynamic—the racial tensions, the contempt for big-game-hunting dentists, the use of cleaning solvents as booze. This commanding debut is messy, funny, and anything but noble, it’s stridently human, and Kantner gets all the blood, guts, pride, and spite down on the page.”
“A rare thing of beauty, a novel alive with detail about a life most of us would never experience.”
“Seth Kantner’s language flashes across the page like the northern lights themselves. A mesmerizing debut novel.”
“Ordinary Wolves is to the mind what a chunk of pemmican made from dried caribou, cranberries, currants and rendered fat is to the body: It’s going to stick to your ribs for a long time.”
“This riveting first novel sets a new standard, offering a profound and beautiful account of a boy’s attempt to reconcile his Alaskan wilderness experience with modern society. As a revelation of the devastation modern America brings to a natural lifestyle, it’s a tour de force, and may be the best treatment of the Northwest and its people since Jack London’s works.”