David Koeppel
February 21, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

In 1977, Norman arrived in Churchill, Manitoba, hired to translate Inuit folk-tales about Noah’s ark as he found himself ”adrift in a constant haze of doubt” about his life. There, he met Helen Tanizaki, an experienced linguist dying of cancer, who served as an intellectual and spiritual guide, assisting with his translations and easing tensions with Inuit story-teller Mark Nuqac. Remembrance weaves Nuqac’s fascinating ”Noah stories” throughout the narrative, presenting the Old Testament figure in a vastly different light: The ”hapless” Noah’s refusal to give the Inuits animals from the ark to eat always leads to dire consequences for him and his family. These tales and Norman’s book offer a refreshing simplicity.

You May Like