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Skating To Antarctica

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* Review coverage in the national and travel press

About the Author

Jenny Diski is the author of eight novels and two memoirs: SKATING TO ANTARCTICA and STRANGER ON A TRAIN. She lives in Cambridge.


Only after learning the details of the author's upbringing will readers understand why she never contacted her mother after her father's death in 1966. Novelist Diski (Nothing Natural) was brought up in a London Jewish community, the only child of a father who specialized in confidence games and a suicidal mother who alternated between depression and violent outbursts. Both parents played sexual touching games with her, she reports, in this powerful memoir. Diski describes how she and her mother were evicted for nonpayment of rent after her father left home and how she endured years of unstable school and living arrangements because her parents were too self-involved to care for her. Diski was treated for depression in psychiatric hospitals and learned to value the quiet she found there. Woven into this harrowing memoir are beautiful descriptions of a trip she took to Antarctica, whose blank landscape Diski compares to the safety and isolation of the mental hospital. Recently her own daughter, Chloe, decided to search for Diski's mother and learned that she died nine years ago, a fact that has provided the author with some closure to the pain of her childhood. (Aug.)

'Jenny Diski's new book has the gripping dream-like logic of a fairy story...Even better, it's a true story...I savoured her clarity, the clipped, astringent truthfulness of her prose, the ice-and-lemon of her universal agnosticism.' Maggie Gee, Literary Review ** 'This is her best and most moving book to date...sassy and vulnerable...Diski puts all her novelistic skills at the service of discovering and arranging autobiographical truth.' Michele Roberts, The Times 'Skating to Antarctica is a fascinating, moving account of two voyages...Diski's book shines out for its wit, lack of self- pity and strong interest in survival. I relished her sketches of ship routine, solemn penguins and bored soldiers...Diski has a great sense of the absurd, whether she is writing about her conman father or the sexual antics of an elephant seal. Antarctica is not barren after all.' - Helen Dunmore, Express 'A non-fiction masterpiece.' - She 'This extraordinary account of a journey to the most barren outer reaches of the planet becomes a beautiful, complex symbol: it's a voyage of self-discovery to the white emptiness that is painted as truth, despair, calm and madness - all at once.' - Good Housekeeping 'There are not many novelists who would make a serious request to be a writer in residence in the Antarctic. But then there are not many novelists like Jenny Diski.' - Observer Review 'The conjunction between Antarctica and her past is predicated on a notion of emptiness...The symbol becomes so powerful that Diski, like Pynchon before her, finally uses a lower-case 'a': that place without pain is antarctic...Skating to Antarctica is both fragmentary memoir and sketchy travelogue. Together they tell the shadowy story of an inner journey form darkness to light. It is an inconclusive trip, but then all the best ones are.' - Daily Telegraph 'An original and striking memoir, cool but authentic, filled with emotional imagery and insight that is all the more resonant for its restraint.' - Independent on Sunday 'Jenny Diski's Skating to Antarctica, part traveller's tale, part autobiography, tells the story of a trip to Antarctica, interwoven with reminiscences of her dysfunctional family and daughter's quest to find what became of Diski's own long-lost mother. There are great descriptions of penguins and elephant seals and Diski's fellow travellers, and a gripping account of Diski's amazingly awful parents. Keeps you appalled and enthralled.' - Observer '... unfailingly sharp-edged prose, confession with its wit about it.' - Times Literary Supplement.

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