Review: 60 Degrees North by Malachy Tallack

At this time of year, as our thoughts turn to the North and the weatherman forecasts a weather front from the Polar region, you might like to familiarise yourself with the countries of that hemisphere.

A book I read recently and would highly recommend is “60 Degrees North: Around The World in Search of Home” by Malachy Tallack, published by Polygon (2015).

60 Degrees North is a moving account of Malachy Tallack’s journey around the world following the sixtieth parallel. It is part memoir, part history lesson as he explores the sense of belonging peoples of the North have to the land and traces the histories and migrations of peoples to and from the places he visits. From discussions of hunting in Greenland to issues of First Nation land rights and environmental issues in Canada to fishing for grayling and avoiding bears in Alaska, pondering the spirit of place in Siberia, the oral poetry of Finland and the Carta Marina (a map of the North printed in 1539) in Sweden, Malachy Tallack journeys through time and space addressing philosophical and cultural attitudes and political histories. Through it all there is an exploration, a longing, a deep grief for the loss of his father and a nostalgia for a sense of home.

It is an examination of what it is to live in a place and belong there examined through his own connection to Shetland, which was his home for many years and is the starting point for this journey.

It is a profound, intelligent and honest book, beautifully written, erudite and succinct.

60 Degrees North can be ordered at Amazon here

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