Monday, March 17, 2014

Sarah Tolmie's The Stone Boatmen

Sarah Tolmie's The Stone Boatmen is back from the printer. The novel won't be officially released until April 1, but Aqueduct Press is selling it now for a pre-release price of $16 through its website, until the official release date. The Stone Boatmen evolved out of Tolmie’s fascination with the fourteenth-century visionary poem, Piers Plowman, which she has also explored in the media of virtual reality and dance. Her novel weaves a tale of three cities, separated by oceans, lost to one another long ago: the first, the city of rituals, of ceremonies; the second, the city of words, of poetry; and the third, the city of the golden birds, of dreams. In their harbors stand the stone boatmen, pointing outward toward the unknown. Now the birds are fostering a new-found relationship of the three cities of the ancestors, and the voyages of the ship Aphelion and its crew are beginning to rebuild the links.

Ursula Le Guin declares of The Stone Boatmen: “Certain imaginative novels never best-sell, yet remain alive, a singular treasure to each new generation that finds them — books such as Islandia, The Worm Ouroboros, Gormenghast. The Stone Boatmen has the makings of one of these quiet classics. It is lucid yet complex. Its strangeness fascinates, captivates. To read it is to find yourself in a country a long, long way from home, taken on a unforeseeable journey — and when it's over, you wish you were still there.”

Publishers Weekly has given The Stone Boatmen a starred review: "The voyages of the ship Aphelion reconnect three isolated cities whose shared past is an enigma of half-understood relics and myth. Tolmie gently guides the reader through a winding thread of linked relationships that span decades as each generation rediscovers infatuation, love and hate, grief, and joy; what could be mere grand inhuman spectacles of epic historical processes are firmly rooted in individual friendships, romances, and bitter feuds that add a vital human dimension. Tolmie's prose is addictive, 'a feast of words burning bright against the dark,' drawing the reader into the subtle tale. Intimacy is favored over flashy action, contemplation over bold speeches. This unique little gem eludes comparison to other works, and discerning readers will count themselves lucky to discover it."

You can purchase the print edition from Aqueduct now, as well as the e-book edition. Both will be available in the usual places on April 1.

ETA: Nancy Hightower wrote about The Stone Boatmen in the March 18, 2014 Washington Post: " In Tolmie’s novel, writing becomes a holy act, temple birds carry an ancient grief, and statues that never move are eerily alive. You will want to find such places once you’ve finished reading this remarkable novel."

1 comment:

Nisi said...

I just edited Thomas Foster's absorbing review of this book; it'll appear in the next issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone. He says Tolmie's doing more than she thought, and what it is.