"One of the best debut novels in recent memory." -Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Sweeping in scale but microscopic in its portrait of dislocated lives . . . Patterson is a sure guide through inhospitable terrain, be it the 'elastic, almost infinite emptiness' of the tundra or the far recesses of the soul." -The New Yorker
Kevin Patterson's first book, the bestselling memoir The Water in Between, recounted his adventures sailing to Tahiti and back. It was published by Random House Canada, Nan A. Talese Books in the US, and Viking Penguin in the UK. He has now written his first novel, which is based on his own experiences as a doctor in Northern Canada.
Consumption follows an Inuit family between 1960 and the present, as they come off the tundra and settle in a community on the shore of Hudson Bay. The protagonist, Victoria, is sent south for treatment of her tuberculosis, and when she returns, she has become an outcast. Her friend Balthazar, a doctor, has been flung up north by the same cultural disintegration and loneliness that pulls at Victoria and her family. He treats Inuit patients suffering from largely European diseases, while trying to understand the forces at work on their community.
When violence strikes their world, Kevin Patterson shows how the tenuous bonds of friendship, love and family fly apart. And then at last, with great feeling, he evokes the unexpectedly tender ways in which the survivors struggle to their feet and carry on.
Random House Canada, August 2006
Nan A. Talese Books, US, August 2007
Albin Michel, France
"Gently seductive. . . Because of his unique experience in the north, where he practiced as a physician, because of his elegant style and compassionate vision, Patterson has created a remarkably compelling novel. His insight into the human condition pulls us to the heart of events, even when the idea of these is "too painful . . . to utter aloud.". . . A book that seems to be about tuberculosis (once known as consumption) becomes a book about isolation in its extremes -- whether in the south or north, about hardship and greed and secrecy and longing and love." -Frances Itani, The Washington Post
"In language that is always sharp and sometimes mesmerizing, Patterson. . . seamlessly works murder, sex and intrigue into the mix and offers a terrific cast that makes arctic life, and the ties of kin, palpable. He delivers a searingly visceral message about love, loss and dislocation." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Patterson's . . . hauntingly beautiful novel mourns the passing of a way of life not easily imagined. Highly recommended." -Library Journal (starred review)
"Patterson displays a real gift for blending scenic description and ethnographic detail with narrative and characterization, and his crisp depictions of events experienced and remembered expand to include stunning images and ruminations on medical and personal matters recorded in the "journal" kept by Keith Balthazar, an American doctor who has come to Rankin Inlet to help the Inuits survive. An all-but-vanished world is brought thrillingly to life, in one of the best debuts novels in recent memory." -Kirkus (Starred Review)
"A treat for lovers of adventure, nature and history. . . Patterson employs our every sense in experiencing this world. . . By the end, testing the snow with a panna (blade) for iglu building blocks seems as second nature as putting on a pair of glasses; a new world has come into focus." -The Seattle Times
"Kevin Patterson's own experience as a kablunuak, or white person, who practices medicine among the Inuit on the Hudson Bay in Canada's subarctic lends Consumption, his simply told, involving debut novel, an unmatchable authority. . . Patterson is an empathetic observer of wrenching cultural change and so-called progress." -Entertainment Weekly
"This is a heart-rending tale of the ways things change from generation to generation in a family and a society. While change sometimes comes at a dizzying pace, there are some things that stay the same, like the enduring strength of people whose ancestors lived on the land and survived unfathomable hardships." -BookPage
"Put Kevin Patterson’s debut novel, Consumption, right at the top of your must-read list. This book is a staggeringly beautiful elegy for the traditional life of the Inuit, showing the inevitable loss when cultures collide. … Patterson’s medical knowledge, combined with his incredible gift as a writer, makes Consumption utterly compelling. … Consumption is not only a beautiful novel, but also an important one." -Edmonton Journal
"Some first novels simply tower over their contemporaries by the scope of their ambition and the power of their vision… [this year] it’s Kevin Patterson’s Consumption." - The Globe and Mail
"A dynamite first novel… tough-minded and ambitious … Consumption launches a major voice in Canadian fiction." -Winnipeg Free Press
"Patterson’s writing is elegant and concise, with an occasional striking metaphor … a quietly devastating novel." -The Vancouver Sun
"Patterson is obviously close to his subject matter and employs a deft hand in viscerally evoking a sense of place and exploiting the many contradictions inherent in the modern-day North. ... some truly impressive characterizations and plotting." -Quill & Quire
"Kevin Patterson has written a vitally important novel about cultural contact and its consequences in the north. It’s a powerful achievement, both compassionate and informed." -Camilla Gibb, author of Sweetness in the Belly
Kevin Patterson grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba, and put himself through medical school by enlisting in the Canadian Army. When his stint was up, he worked as a doctor in the Arctic and on the B.C. coast while studying for his MFA at UBC. He is currently an internist, living on Salt Spring Island. His previous book, a collection of short stories called Country of Cold, was the winner of the inaugural City of Victoria Butler Book Prize as well as the prestigious Roger's Writers' Trust Award.
Kevin Patterson spent three months in the winter of 2007 working at a hospital in Kandahar, treating civilians and soldiers alike. Drawing from the experience, he is co-editing Outside the Wire, an anthology of writing about the war in Afghanistan in the words of soldiers, doctor and volunteers who have experienced it. It is due out in December 2007 with Random House Canada.