The Boiled in Between

Helen Marten

Illustrated by Helen Marten

Traven T. Croves (Design) KOPA, Lithuania (Printer)




ISBN: 9781916052062


Publication date: 14 September 2020


We are the Messrs. The instruments of psychic observation. We are not the moral function of behaviour, neither analyst nor pulse. We are spectator, servant and clown. We are animal, vegetable, mineral. Our flight takes us everywhere. We are interested. We see broken men and women, and cast the spaces in between. We found these two, Ethan and Patrice, and bedded down to watch them squeal.

The Boiled in Between is the debut novel by Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Marten, an ambitious literary work full of beauty and sorrow. It is a novel told in the action of persistence and questioning: how the rhythms of a world built upon metaphor and symbolism can collide with relationships personal and domestic.

Spliced between three voices, the narrative is a project always in movement, its characters traversing the in-betweens. The psychic excitements of wind, dust and weather merge with alchemical interior voices, all of them indexes of the universe’s microscopic pornography, a fitful map of language and human systems. Philosophic and tactile, humorous and unrelenting, The Boiled in Between ignites new meaning for people and terms of living that have long ceased to astonish us.

‘A cosmos emerges in the work of Helen Marten, we know it and we don’t. We know it all, but the All that it becomes, we do not know. It pulls you in and right away it pushes you back again. Everything is familiar and nothing, that is the work of this artist: Creating the Nothing, which in this case is everything. Everyone reads something else, everyone sees something else. And yet, it is familiar to everyone, just differently, and this is exactly what creates this familiarity, a trust in the other, through the other, that becomes something else.’ – Elfriede Jelinek, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature

‘This is a wildly, joyfully creative journey into the tenderness of being human, frail, together and apart. A remarkable debut from a keen eye and a deft, lyrical hand.’ – AL Kennedy

‘An incredible work of literary art.’ – Max Porter

‘The Old Victorian is new again and the dramatic poem is prose… or, in the words of at least one of the Brownings, “As goes the empire, so goes the formatting.” Helen Marten strives, seeks, finds, and does not yield in any of her media; she stands in her integrity as the burning deck becomes a darkling plain.’ – Joshua Cohen

‘Alexander Calder moved to Paris from New York in 1926, aged twenty-seven, and his visit to Mondrian’s studio gave him what he described as the ‘shock that started things’. He likened it to being slapped like a baby to get its lungs working. Writers read, and very very occasionally a text delivers the baby slap: Toi Derricotte’s The Memory Poems, Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, Gwyneth Lewis’ Dalton’s Geranium, Ben Marcus’ The Age of Wire and StringThe Boiled in Between slaps the reader like a baby.’ – Helen DeWitt

‘I love this book in all its wit and inventiveness.’ – Hans Ulrich Obrist

‘Helen Marten has always produced intricate, ricocheting systems, and now she has expanded this system-making into writing. She uses language in this novel like a bricoleur, where words acquire their own sticky, glued substance – brilliant explorations of ugly feelings that are also exercises in how clotted and wayward sentences can be, as well.’ – Adam Thirlwell

‘Each with their startling similes and swerves, their alarming and tender moments, I have begun to read Helen Marten’s sculpture through her writing, her writing through her sculpture. With The Boiled in BetweenMarten has become an insistent voice in my head, tying knots and undoing them, never the same way twice.’ – Adrian Searle