An electrifying novel that tracks a woman's journey from the horrors of Charles Taylor's Liberia to abject poverty and self-exile on a Greek island.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2013.
On a holiday island somewhere in the Aegean Sea, Jacqueline, a young Liberian woman, fends off starvation as she survives in the aftermath of unspeakable brutality. Having escaped the horrors of Charles Taylor's regime, she builds a home of sorts in a cave overlooking the ocean. During the day, she wanders the sunny beaches offering massages to tourists, one Euro for five minutes, all the while balancing her will to live with the crushing guilt of survival.
This hypnotic, lyrical and extraordinary novel tells the story of a woman existing in the wake of experiences so horrifying that she prefers homeless numbness to the psychological confrontation she knows is inevitable. It's a novel about memory. About storytelling. About how we live with what we know.
Alexander Maksik is a writer of exceptional gifts, able to deliver devastatingly powerful emotion through deceptively simple, lucid prose.
A mesmerising novel about a woman pushed to the limits of human experience. Maksik combines James Salter's gift for seductive sentences with a real mastery of character and story. A beautiful, tender piece of literature which just happens to be a page-turner too — Jonathan Lee
A Marker to Measure Drift is a haunting, haunted novel. Things get stripped down to essentials - food, water, where to sleep for the night, a state of solitary desperation brought on by the most profound kind of loss. Every line of this excellent novel rings true as Maksik leads us toward the catastrophe at the story's core. This is one of those books that leaves you staring into space when you finish, dazed from the sheer power of what's been said — Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Gorgeously written, tightly wound, with language as precise as cut glass, Alexander Maksik's A Marker to Measure Drift is a tour de force. Maksik renders the soul of his heroine, a Liberian refugee, with stark honesty so that we understand both the brutality of what she has run from and the terror she experiences as she tries to build her life back. I was undone by this novel. I challenge anyone to read it and not come away profoundly changed — Marisa Silver, author of Mary Coin and The God of War
A Marker to Measure Drift is spellbinding. In its tenderness, grandeur and austerity, it reminds us that there is no country on earth as foreign, as unreachable, as the frantic soul of another human being — Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death and She Matters
A moving, deeply felt and lyrical novel about past and present — Kirkus Reviews
An excellent novel. Each sentence feels intensely crafted, hitting the right tone in what seems like the most concise way possible . . . This book captured me immediately . . . I expected to like A Marker to Measure Drift, but never thought I would become as emotionally involved as I did — Newbooks Magazine
Alexander Maksik's second novel portrays a young Liberian woman named Jacqueline who . . . astonishes, soothes, and horrifies us with perfect efficiency, making A Marker to Measure Drift a masterpiece — Buenos Aires Review
A haunting, poignant novel told in beautifully lyrical prose — Image
Maksik hits the mark. His writing is both stark and lyrical, subtly reflecting Jacqueline's state of mind - wary, desolate, hallucinatory, determined. Maksik's last ten pages, a masterclass in how to captivate and revolt a reader, may well be the most powerful I will read all year — Malcolm Forbes, Literary Review
Alexander Maksik's first novel You Deserve Nothing received rave reviews and it looks as though this, his second, is going to be as successful. We wander around the beaches with Jacqueline, listening to her thoughts and the internal dialogue with her mother without knowing an awful lot about either of them . . . By the end of the book we know everything in one of the biggest impacting narratives I've ever read. He writes lilting prose, almost demanding to be read aloud — Bookbag
A harrowing portrayl of the aftermath of war on a young woman — Independent on Sunday
A Marker to Measure Drift is a novel of such intensity that I had to put it down every so often just to catch my breath and anchor myself in my own comfortable world. Alexander Maksik skilfully engages his readers' sympathy so that we ache for a happy ending knowing that there can be none. — A Life in Books
Thought-provoking novel — Lady
No novel I read this year affected me more powerfully than Alexander Maksik's A Marker to Measure Drift — Richard Russo
Maksik has produced a bold book, and an instructive one — Norman Rush, The New York Times Book Review
Poetic, often mesmerizing . . . faultlessly lyrical . . . A Marker to Measure Drift is about compassion; perhaps it's even a masterclass in compassion — Sydney Morning Herald