Not Being on a Boat

by Esme Claire Keith

October 2011
6 x 9 paper 360 pages
CDN $21.95 | US $21.95

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Winner of the 2012 McNally Robinson Book of the Year!

Finalist for the 2012 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction!

Rutledge, an aging, divorced man, has treated himself to a cruise on the Mariola. This cruise is not just any cruise. It’s the whole shebang. It’s around the world. It’s a lifestyle change: G & Ts and tuxedos and cigars and cognac galore. The service is top-rate. And Rutledge’s steward, Raoul, is a good kid.

But then a day trip to a Caribbean port ends in commotion. Some people don’t make it back onto the ship. Rutledge, nonplussed, makes use of the vacant machines in the gym and the unoccupied loungers on deck. But soon, crew members seem few and far between, and the menu in the Captain’s Mess is significantly diminished. Rutledge gets the feeling that something is amiss. And that’s just unacceptable.

Welcome aboard Esme Keith’s debut dystopic novel, a cunning parody of modern-day luxury and the coveted “all-inclusive” vacation from the refreshingly blunt point of view of a man unable to see beyond his own needs.


“I loved everything about this exquisitely droll social satire. It’s well-crafted, smart, fun, and the characters Rutledge and Raoul are wonderfully original.”—Elyse Friedman 

“Weeks after my voyage alongside them ended, Rutledge and Raoul live combatively on in a sinister wing of my imagination, alongside Golding’s Piggy, Camus’s Étranger and Conrad’s Kurtz.” — Cathy Stonehouse, Event 41.1



Reading at THIN AIR Winnipeg (begins at 0:25:00), September 2012.

“Keith’s debut is a hilariously cunning parody of the coveted all-inclusive vacation.” The Bookseller, July/August 2012.

Review, The Malahat Review, Spring 2012.

Behind the Scenes with McNally Robinson Book of the Year winner,” CBC Manitoba Scene, May 2, 2012.

Ahoy, literature lovers!” Uptown, April 24, 2012.

Not Being On A Boat by Esme Claire Keith,” Pickle Me This, October 16, 2011.

Book Review: Not Being On A Boat by Esme Claire Keith,” National Post, October 7, 2011.