by Ole Rølvaag
(Not part of the Trilogy)
This novel, written in 1921, was intended to be the first book in Rølvaag’s trilogy. It follows some of the same themes Rølvaag used in his other books (a young fisherman leaving Norway to seek his fortune in America and the human cost of moving to a new land) along with themes of hardships used by many authors of immigration stories: the long and unpleasant voyage, aching homesickness, fierce elements of nature, and the difficulties of trying to succeed in a new country — especially when one doesn’t understand the language or culture.
However, unlike Rølvaag’s other works, this story takes place in an urban setting (Minneapolis, and more specifically the area Minnesotans refer to as “Snooze Boulevard”) where temptations abound, and the struggles differ from those on the prairie. When this book became available in English in 1933, it received wide praise from literary critics in America. The Christian Science Monitor referred to it as “a poem rather than a novel,” and felt the book contained “sustained beauty of expression.” Of all his novels, The Boat of Longing was Rølvaag’s favorite.