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


  1. Congratulations, David! Great review.

  2. congrats for your 1st review there! I tried to leave a comment but there was a bizarre error. This is Emma, 2015 IFFP Shadow Panel member

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 David's Book World

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑