South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby. Published by Picador

Cooper Gosling is an artist with a gift, but little ambition or drive. She turned to art as a way to distance herself from her brother’s mental illness, but after his death, she’s reluctant to paint again. In desperation she applies for a fellowship with the National Science Foundations Artists and Writers Program for a chance to spend a year at the South Pole, the place her father read about to Cooper and her brother when they were young children. This novel is fascinating on many levels, firstly the simple mechanics of living in a place where fire is a deadly enemy and going to the bathroom is an art. Then there are the social dynamics of living in an enclosed space with others for an extended period of time. Some of the battles are the petty stuff of school cafeterias and playgrounds, others are much more serious. This is a wry, witty observation of human being attempting to live in a place not suitable for human habitation

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