This is a book of two halves, each as good as the other. In the first, we are introduced to an adventurous woman who takes a job as a cook on a merchant ship. While docked in Chile, she begins a passionate romance with Samsa, who gives her the nickname “Boulder.”
In the second half, years have passed, the couple now lives in Reykjavik, and Boulder grapples with the tedium of domestic life. When Samsa decides she wants to become a mother, Boulder finds herself alienated from the life they have built together.
For such a contemplative narrative, this is a propulsive and atmospheric read that grabbed me from the start. The prose is at once rich and sparse, as absorbing as Boulder and Samsa’s complex relationship. Boulder is a fascinating character, a pirate adrift in the confines of ordinary life, who nonetheless aspires to do right by the woman she loves.
Slim but mighty, Boulder is a worthy contender for the International Booker that will captivate literary readers of many tastes.