After a seven-day journey on the South Atlantic Ocean aboard a lobster boat servicing Cape Town, Ida arrives on the island of Tristan. In the little island community, a village nestled on the slopes of a volcano whose only limits are the immense sky and the ocean, her bearings are gradually shifted as time slowly begins to expand.
When a cargo ship runs aground near a neighboring island, spilling massive amounts of oil, there is suddenly frantic activity in the town. Ida eagerly joins a team of three men who go to the small island to rescue oil-drenched penguins. One night, one of the men walks her back to the cabin where she is staying. They experience a night of love that continues to grow on the secluded island. For two weeks away from the world—the sea is rough, no boat can come to pick them up—the dance of their bodies and their all-consuming love is their only horizon.
Following the rhythm of the ocean and the untamed wind, Clarence Boulay brilliantly gives flesh to a dizzying sensation of sensual abandonment. Tristan raises emotional sails and upends all certainty.
Praise for the French original:
‘Starting with a background that is both harsh and sensual, Clarence Boulay invites us on a stunning voyage into literature. . . . Sometimes, an island is a blank page. . . . This is exactly what we experience while reading this magnificent first, very sensitively written novel.’—Le Figaro Littéraire
‘Without using clichés, the delicate writing of Clarence Boulay explores isolation, that which liberates as much as it constrains, in a beautiful first novel that takes us far, far away.’—L’Alsace
‘This work is unlike any other. It doesn’t follow the rules of adventure tales, nor those of a purely impressionist travel journal. There is the ocean, storms, and wild animals, but no attempt to mimic Melville or Conrad. First, the language is completely unique, diaphanous yet precise, supremely sensual. There is life in this story, flesh, skin, and entrails. Ida watches her lover with passion, she glorifies his strength, his freedom, his beauty. In a magnificent scene, she describes how she is learning to gut petrels, those small birds whose insides she removes and whose fat is extracted to make oil. You can almost feel it on your fingers.’—Livre Hebdo
Praise for the English Translation:
‘Via a catalog of island experiences and feminine desires, the rich novel Tristan navigates a traveler’s painful awakening.’—Karen Rigby, Foreword Review
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