Eva Baltasar


Winner of the Llibreter prize chosen by booksellers

Longlisted for 2022 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

Permafrost’s no-bullshit lesbian narrator is an uninhibited lover and a wickedly funny observer of modern life. Desperate to get out of Barcelona, she goes to Brussels, ‘because a city whose symbol is a little boy pissing was a city I knew I would like’; as an au pair in Scotland, she develops a hatred of the colour green. And everywhere she goes, she tries to break out of the roles set for her by family and society, chasing escape wherever it can be found: love affairs, travel, thoughts of suicide.

Full of powerful, physical imagery, this prize-winning debut novel by acclaimed Catalan poet Eva Baltasar was a word-of-mouth hit in its own language. It is a breathtakingly forthright call for women’s freedom to embrace both pleasure and solitude, and speaks boldly of the body, of sex, and of the self.


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Print status: Available
Author: Eva Baltasar
Translator: Julia Sanches
Original language: Catalan
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 6 April 2021
ISBN: 9781911508755
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508748
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 144


New York Times

‘The experience of reading Permafrost is utterly unforgettable.’

Amina Cain  

Reading Eva Baltasar's Permafrost is like having a rug continuously pulled out from under you until finally the rug disappears. How can a novel that orbits suicide be so surprising, so intensely liberating and funny, and at the same time, so full of grief? That is its genius.

Catherine Lacey

Permafrost is a discomfiting book about a sensual intoxication with life that just barely contains the desire for it to be over and done with forever. Like a perfect song, Eva Baltasar’s words, as translated by Julia Sanches, have a sheen and inevitability that I won’t soon forget. It held me in a trance.’

Maryse Meijer

‘Calling to mind the work of Herve Guibert and Olivia Laing, Permafrost is an iron fist swathed in velvet, a book at once inviting and intimidating, lush and severe, enormously witty, thoroughly intelligent, and devastatingly emotional. It is a text that trusts the wisdom of the body, finding pleasure everywhere—even in suicide, death, and disaster; this is the most weirdly uplifting book I have read in years, perhaps because it holds at its core such affection for all the nuances of being.  Seamless, delicious, and nothing short of genius, Baltasar’s fiction debut gives us “the whole crush of humanity[…] concentrated in a place that is absolutely personal.”’

Rebecca Tamás

‘An explosively witty, intense novel about freedom, desire and the body — Baltasar's voice is as bracing and sharp as cold mountain air, and her queer exploration of being and intimacy is intoxicating. Raw, fresh and uncompromising new writing.’

Imma Monsó
La Vanguardia - La risa

‘Released from my annual dose of Bernhard, I usually feel a need for more and I usually do not have anything dark enough to hand. But this time I did - Permafrost by Eva Baltasar.’

Katharina Volckmer

‘A novel about the beauty of love, sex and suicide, it strikes the perfect balance between passion, a dark sense of humour and tenderness.’

David Coates

Bloody hell! It might be short but this book packed one hell of a punch! Dark, twisted and very funny with an ending that genuinely floored me – incredible!’

Anton Bogomazov
Politics and Prose

‘I don't think I've ever read a book that felt so much like the inside of my brain. Every other sentence I wanted to yell “fuck yeah”. Gay sex and death, that's apparently all my brain needs. I read this one in one sitting and absolutely loved it.’

Annie Metcalf
Magers and Quinn

‘The narrator of Permafrost is sapphic, smart, and suicidal. In a slightly achronological confession, she recounts her childhood, peripatetic sexual history, and frustratingly normal family life, all interspersed with tragicomic suicide attempt-attempts. (She never quite gets to the attempt part, often for aesthetic reasons.) An addictive character study with an ending that hits like a mack truck, Permafrost is a little gem, another maddening example of how possibly the best novelists out there are poets. Includes an excellent and illuminating translator’s note.’

Brett Gregory
Two Dollar Radio

‘The narrator interprets the world around her with such dark humour and fire and dread for life. I couldn't put it down. Poetic, edgy, introspective page turner. Tamara Faith Berger meets Yelena Moskovich.’

Doug Riggs
Bank Square Books

‘Baltasar's debut novel, after ten collections of poetry, has a razor-sharp wit and an observational eye that picks apart life’s abundant absurdities. The title Permafrost, a manifestation of the protagonist's disdain for contemporary society and the coping mechanisms we all use to tamp down the intensity of life, is at the same time a shield and a sword. Marginalised by her sexuality, her introversion, her lack of interest in work, the protagonist consistently wards lovers and family away while at the same time savaging them with a wry, stream-of-consciousness narration. Sanches’s translation effectively reproduces the lyricism inherent in every sentence and maintains the black humour and inescapable fatalism of the original Catalan. This is a remarkable debut and proof positive that poets make the best novelists.’

Heidi Zhang
The Dial Bookshop

‘Unremittingly lucid yet delightfully deranged, Eva Baltasar's impeccable narrative voice will take you on a fast ride where, as the plot twists and her sharp remarks recede from your peripheral vision, you remain keenly aware of, and reassured by, the warmth radiating from the palm of the hand she places on your knee.’

Emma Ramadan

‘A lush and deeply incisive novel about what it means to love and to live as a woman that could only have been written by a poet as piercing as Eva Baltasar, and translated by her perfect match Julia Sanches.’

Rachel Schneck
Harvard Book Store

‘This book spoke to my battered gay heart and also there's a sentence where she describes someone's nose as being “tight as a gymnast's ass” and I haven't been able to stop thinking about that.’

Luis Correa
Avid Bookshop

‘The young, gay narrator of Permafrost is directionless, unmotivated, self-absorbed — surprisingly, however, that mix delivers a sharp, revitalizing shock to the system that compelled me to the end. Each short chapter is brilliantly translated by Julia Sanches in a way that makes Baltasar's background in poetry ring clearly. Reading this, I felt shades of The Bell Jar in the narrative, of Bluets in its profundity, and Bartleby the Scrivener in its bold spirit.’

Brad Johnson
East Bay Booksellers

‘There is a refreshing breathlessness to Eva Baltasar's Permafrost, as though the container of words is never quite enough. I say refreshing because in the most truthful cases, when we're talking about sex and self and the ruddy intertwining between them, words aren't enough! Baltasar's book will be a bookseller's delight.’

Stephen Sparks
Point Reyes Books

'Eva Baltasar's Permafrost, translated from the Catalan by Julia Sanches, is a mordant novel that takes the demands of the body seriously. Sex, death, piss, and illness run throughout this unrepentant monologue, all pointing to a truth of our condition that many polite writers steer safely clear of, but one that tells us just what it is to be a human in an ill-fitting world.'

Anna Claire Weber
White Whale Bookstore, Pittsburgh

‘And Other Stories has given Permafrost a brilliant comp: Ottessa Moshfegh (My Year of Rest and Relaxation) meets Virginie Despentes (Vernon Subutex, King Kong Theory). This is poet Eva Baltasar’s first novel, in a brilliant translation by Julia Sanches.’  

Jen Steele
Boswell Book Company

‘Narrated by a young woman who’s fixed on suicide, past loves, family, and everything in between. Trying to find her way in life, our protagonist moves to Scotland where she becomes an au pair, reads all day, and starts to hate the colour green. Next, she tries her hand at teaching Spanish to businesspeople in Brussels and has a love affair with her client that she must put a stop to once marriage is proposed. I've never read anything like this. Permafrost is sharp, poetic, philosophical, and raw, with many fleeting moments. Eva Baltasar breathes a memorable and discerning character to life!’

Le Monde

‘A magma of sensations, doubts and aspirations. A trove of treasures. The piquancy of this novel, a surprise word-of-mouth hit in Spain, comes from the gap between the fantasies projected onto the narrator by the women around her––who see in her a free and contented woman––and the suffocating feeling constricting her. ’

La Vanguardia

‘Eva Baltasar debuts as a novelist with a high voltage book about the self, the body, sex and the family. One of the books of the year.’

Time Out 

‘The discovery of the year’


‘Breathtaking, intense, poetic.’

El Mundo/El Cultural

‘A cold but fiery lucidity, admirable, in its approach to detail.’

Babelia/El País

‘Baltasar handles feelings as radioactive material, that is, as something that kills and illuminates us.’

La Vanguardia

‘Baltasar describes how you didn't think it could be done. It surpasses everything. One of the best books of the year’

El Periódico

‘Without doubt, one of the most memorable protagonists of contemporary Catalan narrative.’

La Repubblica

‘A Catalan Dorothy Parker. Ironic, implacable.’

La Stampa

‘An investigation of the body as an instrument for measuring pain and desire. A besieged, solemn and majestically painful body, which ideally embraces all of humanity.’

El País

‘A new voice. Courageous and audacious. Baltasar's style is astonishing.’


‘Baltasar’s is a strong debut.’


‘Intimate, beautiful, ironic and surprising.’

Eva Piquer
Ara Llegim

‘An electrifying writing and a personal, raw and lucid gaze. It convinces.’

Luna Miguel

‘Read until you come or read until you cry. That's what happens when you encounter the frozen casing of Permafrost. Ice, not because it is cold, but because it cracks.’

Jenn Díaz
El Periódico

‘Eva Baltasar performs an exercise in honesty with this protagonist, who does not beat about the bush and talks – talks to us – without half measures, without filters, without conventions. Perhaps that honesty has been responsible for the success of the novel, which has recently won the Premi Llibreter. This is the power of a voice without scorn, without regrets, that narrates its own introspection.’

Julià Guillamon

‘Permafrost by Eva Baltasar is one of the revelatory books of this season . . . I had never read a book in Catalan about sex, seen from the perspective of a woman, such as Permafrost.’

Jordi Benavente
La lanza

‘I came to Permafrost because it was recommended by everyone. And now I have devoured it, I also recommend it to you.’

Marc Reig
A book a day

‘We talk about literature in capitals . . . This is a story that, in the search for reasons to end a life, allows us to find those reasons for which it is worth continuing to live, day by day, even if it is to be able to continue fantasizing about death, or even about life.’