TagMend the Living

Books of the 2010s: Fifty Memories, nos. 20-11

Welcome to the fourth part of my countdown of reading memories from the 2010s. You can read the previous instalments here: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21.

Something I’ve found interesting about this instalment in particular is that a couple of the books here (The Wake and Lightning Rods) just missed out on a place in my yearly list of favourites when I first read them. But they have stayed with me over the years, and their placing on my list reflects that.

This is one of my reasons for making this list: to see how my feelings about different books have (or haven’t) changed.

On to this week’s memories…

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Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal: a European Literature Network review

maylisThis week, I made my debut as a reviewer for the European Literature Network website. The book I’m reviewing is Maylis de Kerangal’s second novel to appear in English, Mend the Living (translated from the French by Jessica Moore; the US market has a different translation, Sam Taylor’s The Heart).

I could tell you that Mend the Living is the story of a heart transplant, and that would be true; but it wouldn’t prepare you for the extraordinary, kaleidoscopic sentences:

What it is, Simon Limbeau’s heart, this human heart, from the moment of birth when its cadence accelerated while other hearts outside were accelerating too, hailing the event, no one really knows; what it is, this heart, what has made it leap, swell, sicken, waltz light as a feather or weigh heavy as a stone, what has stunned it, what has made it melt – love; what it is, Simon Limbeau’s heart, what it has filtered, recorded, archived, black box of a twenty-year-old body – only a moving image created by ultrasound could echo it, could show the joy that dilates and the sorrow that constricts…

Already in this opening fragment, the line between the medical and emotional meanings of the human heart is being blurred, and so Mend the Living continues. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find this novel in contention for the Man Booker International Prize; read my review to find out why.

Now read on…

Stu has a good review of Mend the Living at Winstonsdad’s Blog; and there’s an interesting conversation between de Kerangal and Moore over at BOMB Magazine.

Book details (Foyles affiliate link)

Mend the Living (2014) by Maylis de Kerangal, tr. Jessica Moore (2016), MacLehose Press paperback

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