BOULDER by Eva Baltasar
Translated by Julia Sanches
Reading Eva Baltasar’s International Booker shortlisted Boulder, I was struck by déjà vu. Maybe it’s the whole loner chef on a freight ship thing. Or the intense sensuality-bordering-on-violence of the prose. Whatever, it reminded me of Ottessa Moshfegh’s early novella, McGlue, which happens to still be my favourite Moshfegh book. And while Boulder is very, very different, there is no doubt that the two are kindred spirits.
An unnamed narrator escapes the perceived rigidity of her life by jumping on a ship as its cook. Content with the solitude it brings, she drifts from port to port until, one night, she meets Samsa. Animal lust gives way to more conventional love and, when Samsa is offered a job in Reykjavík the two settle there. Disaster looms when Samsa decides to have a baby, the arrival of which anchors the narrator in ways she’d never wanted.
As a celebration of carnal pleasures, Boulder is pure fire. As an exploration of competing desires - for solitude, for a lover, to reject maternal expectations - it offers keen insight. Yet, for a book so heavily invested in its queerness, it oddly leans on heteronormative conventions. Powerful but patchy.
Boulder by Eva Baltasar (Tr. Julia Sanches)
And Other Stories, 2022