Under the ravishing light of an Alaskan sky, objects are spilling from the thawing tundra linking a Yup'ik village to its hunter-gatherer past. In the shifting sand dunes of a Scottish shoreline, impressively preserved hearths and homes of Neolithic farmers are uncovered. In a grandmother's disordered mind, memories surface of a long-ago mining accident and a 'mither who was kind'.
In this luminous new essay collection, acclaimed author Kathleen Jamie visits archeological sites and mines her own memories – of her grandparents, of youthful travels – to explore what surfaces and what reconnects us to our past. As always she looks to the natural world for her markers and guides. Most movingly, she considers, as her father dies and her children leave home, the surfacing of an older, less tethered sense of herself.
Surfacing offers a profound sense of time passing and an antidote to all that is instant, ephemeral, unrooted.
Multi-award winning poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie (1962 - ) was born in the west of Scotland. She has written three works of non-fiction: Among Muslims (2002), an acclaimed travel narrative; Findings (2005) and Sightlines (2012), both ground-breaking collections of nature and travel writing. She lives in Fife and is a Professor of Creative Writing at Stirling University.
"Nature in Jamie's writing is immediate, domestic and, well, natural [...] a book whose impact is accretive and, eventually, astonishing."
– Alex Preston, Observer
"Notes detailing chance encounters, fleeting relationships and a shared pull towards a specific world, (are) deepened with autobiographical anecdote, then shaken up with a vivid and urgent present-tense noticing that electrifies her connections and surroundings. It is as if Jamie, wherever she goes, functions as a lightning rod, drawing past, present and future together"
– New Statesman
"Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie really stood out"
– Sinéad Gleeson, Irish Times, Books of the Year 2019
"A beautifully produced essay collection that spirals back through interests and themes traced over the past 40 years of Jamie's career, as well as forwards into an unknown future [...] To read a Jamie essay is to be given a fresh lens through which to view the world
– Amanda Bell, Irish Times