The second novel by Spain’s Eva Baltasar is billed as part of “a triptych that aims to explore the universes of three different women in the first person”. But for this clarification, you might wonder if the narrator of Boulder is the same person as the one introduced in Permafrost, Baltasar’s 2018 debut (a novel akin to a collection of short stories centred on one character).
Here, as there, this person’s actual name is never revealed as she enters into relationships with other women in a manner that, if not quite predatory, is certainly determined. Employed as a cook on a ship, it docks on the Chilean coast where she meets Samsa. The pair swiftly become an item and they move to Iceland to start a family; “five years pass,” writes Baltasar at one point before Samsa’s IVF begins. The narrator, very much an understudy in the baby’s life relative to its mother, becomes possessive and restless.
As with Permafrost, Baltasar’s protagonist is not unambiguously likeable but expresses her id in a sometimes chaotic, perhaps relatable manner. The translation skills of Julia Sanches have again been utilised here, too, and make for some remarkably visceral bursts of prose styling: both writers are standout talents.
Boulder, Eva Baltasar [trans. Julia Sanches] (And Other Stories)
Price: £11.99. Info: here
words NOEL GARDNER
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