An electrifying novel that tracks a woman's journey from the horrors of Charles Taylor's Liberia to abject poverty and self-exile on a Greek island.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2013.
On a holiday island somewhere in the Aegean Sea, Jacqueline, a young Liberian woman, fends off starvation as she survives in the aftermath of unspeakable brutality. Having escaped the horrors of Charles Taylor's regime, she builds a home of sorts in a cave overlooking the ocean. During the day, she wanders the sunny beaches offering massages to tourists, one Euro for five minutes, all the while balancing her will to live with the crushing guilt of survival.
This hypnotic, lyrical and extraordinary novel tells the story of a woman existing in the wake of experiences so horrifying that she prefers homeless numbness to the psychological confrontation she knows is inevitable. It's a novel about memory. About storytelling. About how we live with what we know.
Alexander Maksik is a writer of exceptional gifts, able to deliver devastatingly powerful emotion through deceptively simple, lucid prose.
A mesmerising novel about a woman pushed to the limits of human experience. Maksik combines James Salter's gift for seductive sentences with a real mastery of character and story. A beautiful, tender piece of literature which just happens to be a page-turner too - Jonathan Lee
A Marker to Measure Drift is a haunting, haunted novel. Things get stripped down to essentials - food, water, where to sleep for the night, a state of solitary desperation brought on by the most profound kind of loss. Every line of this excellent novel rings true as Maksik leads us toward the catastrophe at the story's core. This is one of those books that leaves you staring into space when you finish, dazed from the sheer power of what's been said - Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn s Long Halftime Walk
Gorgeously written, tightly wound, with language as precise as cut glass, Alexander Maksik's A Marker to Measure Drift is a tour de force. Maksik renders the soul of his heroine, a Liberian refugee, with stark honesty so that we understand both the brutality of what she has run from and the terror she experiences as she tries to build her life back. I was undone by this novel. I challenge anyone to read it and not come away profoundly changed - Marisa Silver, author of Mary Coin and The God of War
A Marker to Measure Drift is spellbinding. In its tenderness, grandeur and austerity, it reminds us that there is no country on earth as foreign, as unreachable, as the frantic soul of another human being - Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death and She Matters
Poetic, often mesmerizing . . . faultlessly lyrical . . . A Marker to Measure Drift is about compassion; perhaps it's even a masterclass in compassion - Sydney Morning Herald
A moving, deeply felt and lyrical novel about past and present - Kirkus Reviews
A haunting, poignant novel told in beautifully lyrical prose - Image
Maksik hits the mark. His writing is both stark and lyrical, subtly reflecting Jacqueline's state of mind - wary, desolate, hallucinatory, determined. Maksik's last ten pages, a masterclass in how to captivate and revolt a reader, may well be the most powerful I will read all year - Malcolm Forbes, Literary Review
Alexander Maksik is the author of You Deserve Nothing and A Marker to Measure Drift. His writing has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper's, Tin House, Harvard Review, New York Times Magazine, Salon and Narrative Magazine, among other publications, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is the recipient of fellowships from the Truman Capote Literary Trust and the Corporation of Yaddo. He has taught at the University of Iowa where he was the Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Fiction.