Letters From The Arctic

By Suzanne Lapstun

Illustrated by Rosendo Li

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The Arctic beckons from the edge, at the limits of our geographic knowledge and civilized souls, nudging our guilty consciences ever so lightly when we read about melting ice and rising sea levels. It is also a place of mind. This is the story of Marianne, the tangled paths that led her onto a ship headed north, and the events that followed, involving bears, glaciers, mountains and several crossings of the Barents Sea. Twenty years after her first landfall she has returned to Svalbard, the desolate islands clustered halfway between Norway’s northern tip and the North Pole. In an interweaving of past and present, she calls on local residents, a dead poet, old friends and an estranged lover, seeking to understand the currents that have transformed both herself and the place she used to call home.

Inspired by W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice’s Letters From Iceland, this blend of letters, drawings, anecdotes and poems – including a mordant take on climate speculation seen through the lens of Aristophanes’ comedy The Birds – invites the reader on a journey of reflection on self, society and the environment.

Suzanne Lapstun, born in Norway and raised in Australia, lived for many years between France, Peru and Svalbard. Currently based in Rome, Italy, where she works in international development, Suzanne is fluent in six languages and writes, translates and performs poetry in four. This is her first novel.

Rosendo Li Rubio is an artist based in Montauban, France. Born in Chulucanas, Peru, to a Peruvian mother and Chinese father, Rosendo graduated in drawing, painting and mural painting from the Institutes of Fine Arts of Piura and Lima, before moving to China where he studied pottery and porcelain-making. He has exhibited his work in Peru, China and France.