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John Benditt


A fierce, complicated, silent man wakes from a fever dream compelled to build a boat and sail away from the small island where he was born. The boat carries him to the next, bigger, island, where he becomes locked in a drunken and violent affair whose explosion propels him all the way to the mainland. There he works as a carpenter, struggles to stay sober, and attempts to understand the intricacies of a larger society and its dark underworld. After he is beaten and left for dead by two men he considered his friends, he is taken in by a charismatic priest whose mission is to cleanse the mainland of the corruption and impurities brought on by the current king. As the boatmaker’s journey takes him deeper into the layers of racial and religious hatred, he uncovers truths that allow him to redirect the course of his destiny. Part fable, part allegory, The Boatmaker is a haunting and passionate story of love and the voyage of self-discovery.

The Boatmaker is a wonderful novel--wonderful as in spectacularly good and wonderful as in full of wonders. There are echoes of our own time and of older times; it is set in a very intelligently imagined country, a mirror of our Western world and its evils and virtues rather than a fantasy land.

— John Casey, author of the National Book Award-winning Spartina