Finalist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Longlisted for the 2017 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction
It begins with a chance encounter at the top of the world.
Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada, about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Both are in search of answers about a family member: Nelson for his estranged older brother, and Fay for her vanished grandfather. Driving Fay into town from the airport on a freezing January night, Nelson reveals a folder left behind by his brother. An image catches Fay’s eye: a clock she has seen before. Soon Fay and Nelson realize that their relatives have an extraordinary and historic connection — a secret share in one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of polar expedition. This is the riddle of the “Arnold 294” chronometer, which reappeared in Britain more than a hundred years after it was lost in the Arctic with the ships and men of Sir John Franklin’s Northwest Passage expedition. The secret history of this elusive timepiece, Fay and Nelson will discover, ties them and their families to a journey that echoes across two centuries.
In a feat of extraordinary scope and ambition, Ed O’Loughlin moves between a frozen present and an ever thawing past. Minds of Winter is a novel about ice and time and their ability to preserve or destroy, of mortality and loss and our dreams of transcending them.
Ed O’Loughlin is an Irish Canadian author and journalist. His first novel, Not Untrue and Not Unkind, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. His second novel, Toploader, was published in 2011. House of Anansi published his third novel, Minds of Winter, in spring of 2017, which was long-listed for the Sir Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction.
As a journalist, Ed reported from Africa for several papers, including the Irish Times. He was the Middle East correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age of Melbourne. Ed was born in Toronto and raised in Ireland. He now lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.
“A tour de force.” — Kirkus Reviews
“[A] complex tale of historical intrigue about 19th-century polar explorers.” — Publishers Weekly
“Minds of Winter is a profound ode to land, legend and love. . . . beautifully drawn and expertly told, Minds of Winter is gripping from the start.” — National Post
“Bright moments from the distant past spring up beside dark moments from the present, things hidden – a death, a gift, a lost clock – come briefly into view and then disappear forever. In Minds of Winter, Ed O’Loughlin’s brilliant story of polar exploration, time itself is an Arctic: a mysterious dimension of sun craze and apparitions, chance encounters and destiny. The mechanism of this novel is fascinating to observe, its implications are deeply human. In O’Loughlin’s work, our desire for knowledge, our obsession with the past, our grappling with life itself . . . all of it is generously, wittily on display.” — Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury Citation
“Hugely ambitious…[O’Loughlin] displays a prodigious imagination.” — Globe and Mail
“Minds of Winter is a remarkable feat of imagination, empathy, and research. Past and present merge to convey the polar landscape’s immense mysteries, and the lives of those voyagers compelled to seek answers in its icy expanses. Ed O’Loughlin is a skilled cartographer of both the Arctic and the human heart. What a magnificent novel.” — Ron Rash, author of Serena and Above the Waterfall
“Readers who delight in history and mystery mixed together will appreciate O’Loughlin’s shifting drifts of reality and imagination.” — Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“Few novelists have the temerity to offer up mystery, suspense, adventure, and a famous historical puzzle in a single novel. Ed O’Loughlin does so in Minds of Winter, and takes the reader to the ends of the earth in the process.” — Robert Hough, author of The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan and Dr. Brinkley’s Tower
“[A] masterly, richly researched, vastly ranging tale” — Toronto Star
“Minds of Winter proves to be an exhilarating romp through the age of polar exploration . . . like the search for Franklin himself, Minds of Winter is a story of death and glory, loss and triumph and, ultimately, the mighty power of the imagination in the face of unrelenting struggle.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“In both concept and execution the novel is a serious piece of work at once vastly entertaining and ambitious on a scale that leaves much of contemporary Irish fiction looking woefully insubstantial . . . there will be few better historical novels published this year.” — Sunday Times
“[A] marvel of a novel.” — Irish Independent
“The writing is stupendously good . . . O’Loughlin manages beautifully.” — The Australian