A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 4 Critic Reviews

A moving, deeply felt and lyrical novel about past and present.


A hypnotic, spellbinding novel set in Greece and Africa, where a young Liberian woman reckons with a haunted past. 

On a remote island in the Aegean, Jacqueline is living alone in a cave accessible only at low tide. With nothing to protect her from the elements, and with the fabric between herself and the world around her increasingly frayed, she is permeated by sensory experiences of remarkable intensity: the need for shade in the relentless heat of the sun-baked island; hunger and the occasional bliss of release from it; the exquisite pleasure of diving into the sea. The pressing physical realities of the moment provide a deeper relief: the euphoric obliteration of memory and, with it, the unspeakable violence she has seen and from which she has miraculously escaped.

Slowly, irrepressibly, images from a life before this violence begin to resurface: the view across lush gardens to a different sea; a gold Rolex glinting on her father’s wrist; a glass of gin in her mother’s best crystal; an adoring younger sister; a family, in the moment before their fortunes were irrevocably changed. Jacqueline must find the strength to contend with what she has survived or tip forward into full-blown madness.
Visceral and gripping, extraordinary in its depiction of physical and spiritual hungers, Alexander Maksik’s A Marker to Measure Drift is a novel about ruin and faith, barbarism and love, and the devastating memories that contain the power both to destroy us and to redeem us. 


About Alexander Maksik

See more books from this Author
Alexander Maksik is the author of the novel You Deserve Nothing and a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His writing has appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper's, Tin House, Harvard Review, The New York Times Magazine, Salon, and Narrative Magazine, among other publications, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He lives in New York City.

Author Residence: New York, NY
Published July 30, 2013 by Vintage. 242 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
Want to Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for A Marker to Measure Drift
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Norman Rush on Aug 23 2013

In any case, an undaunted Alexander Maksik has brought his skills to this very problem. His second novel, “A Marker to Measure Drift,” recounts a season of homeless exile in the life of a 24-year-old Liberian woman fleeing an episode of gruesome violence...Maksik has produced a bold book, and an instructive one.

Read Full Review of A Marker to Measure Drift | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Claudia La Rocco on Aug 22 2013

Fair enough; it’s a good subject. But there is somehow a sense of avoidance in Mr. Maksik’s writing, as if, much like his characters, he might find a way to answer the riddle of alienation without ever truly letting anyone else into the room.

Read Full Review of A Marker to Measure Drift | See more reviews from NY Times


on May 05 2013

A moving, deeply felt and lyrical novel about past and present.

Read Full Review of A Marker to Measure Drift | See more reviews from Kirkus

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Aug 16 2013

A mirror to Jacqueline’s psychological state, Maksik’s prose is so stripped-down and skeletal that even commas come to feel like a luxury. Though the style initially holds an austere appeal, its mantra-like repetitiveness tends to drags the novel down in its middle parts...

Read Full Review of A Marker to Measure Drift | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for A Marker to Measure Drift

An aggregated and normalized score based on 90 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

Karen Russo

Karen Russo 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list