Books to read


Inspired by Alaska Maggie Shipstead’s novel Great Circle follows the life of Marian Graves, a female pilot who disappears near Antarctica in 1950 while attempting to circumnavigate the earth north to south. While the book is packed with shipwrecks, plane crashes, bootlegging mobsters, Hollywood scandals, and forbidden romance, a sizeable part of the story takes place in the glaciers, frontier towns, and wilderness of Alaska. The 600-page book—spanning three generations and nearly 100 years of history—took Shipstead more than six years to create, and was a finalist for the 2021 Booker Prize. In this interview, Shipstead describes how Alaska helped inspire her story of a woman breaking barriers, both personal and universal. —AS TOLD TO AND EDITED BY MOLLY RETTIG Your protagonist, Marian, had a pretty crazy childhood. She survived a shipwreck as a newborn in which her father, the captain, rescued Marian and her twin brother in a lifeboat.…