Mend the living by Maylis De Kerangal

 

Mend the living by maylis De Kerangal

French Literature

Original title Réparer les vivants

Translator – Jessica Moore

Source – review copy

I said earlier this year I wanted to reach a 100 french novels this year, the main reason is there is so much great fiction coming from France in recent years and here is another writer I have found to add to the list . I know Maclehose have high hopes for this book and I as a reader can see why they have .This is Maylis De Kerangal fifth novel and the second one to be translated to English she has won a number of prizes in her native France. She lives in Paris.

Christopher Alba, John Rocher, and him, Simon Limbeau. The alarms were ringing when they pushed back the sheets and got out of bed for a session planned by text a little before midnight, a session at half-tide, only two or three like this a year – rough see, regular waves, low- wind and not a soul in sight. Jeans , shirt, they slipped outside without a bite, not even a glass of milk or handful of ceral, not evena crust of bread

Hungry and early in the morning simon and his mates head to the Surf on a day that will be like no other for him .His last !

The book follows one day and a number of lives that follows one death and that is the death of the title character Simon a 19-year-old surfer full of life, he has woken very early  to catch the surf  as he usually does, what we see is the early morning race to the beach he has made many times before  and the group of surfers there on the beach the sights and scents of being a surfer  . Then this scene is blown open, when  we see the accident  that has happened to Simon and he is in an ambulance the action then follows to a nurse as he arrives at the hospital and his parents decide to donate his organs.We see how one man has touched so many over the space of one day from his friends and family to those he donates to and all those along the way in this rollercoaster last day of a French Surfer.

He’ll be a donor

Sean is one to make this statement and Thomas Remige gets up from his chair abruptly, shaky, red thorax expanding with an influx of heat as though his blood was speeding up , and walks straight towards them. Thank you. Marianne and Sean Lower their eyes, planted like stakes in the office doorway, wordless their shoes mark the floor leave sludge and black grass, they themselves are over whelmed by what they’ve just done, by what they’ve just announced – “Donor” “Donor” “don-ate” “Aban-don” the words clang together.

The minute his parents choose to let him go their Simon.

 

What we have here is an event that takes place every day and that is that  someone dies, but they choose  to  live on in the donations they make of their organs. What Maylis has done is taken the moment this happens. This is like the Hadron collider of a book Simon  on one side and the people he will help on the other side.  are like the two particles waiting for that one moment this two collide  and start a new life at the  moment of creation ! This book is about heart Simons heart which goes to the heart of France Paris to be reborn in an Old woman.So Young man gives an older woman life from his own death. The prose is written in a fast furious style  almost like the surf that Simon has ridden through his young life you are on the crest of a wave a vibrant writer and a vibrant translation by Jessica moore make this a ride that will leave the reader breathless.

Have you read this book ?

 

Winston’s books hello again

Well this week has seen arrival of two book by writers I have written about before but also from different sides of the middle east .

Hilltop by Assaf Gavron

First to arrive this week was this Novel from Israeli , the fourth book to be translated to english from this writer whom I first reviewed here on the blog with his book Almost dead , this seems to a more mature work from a writer whom , I like first time round .this book has been called the Great Israeli novel and follows the goings , comings and politics of one hilltop in modern Israeli .

The broken mirror / sinalcol by Elias Khoury

Then today dropped through from Elias Khoury ,another writer I have reviewed before on the blog two books by him  Yalo  and As though she were sleeping .Considered by many to be one of the finest voice from Arabic literature this is his latest offering and follows one man’s journey back to Beirut from the safety of France to find the mythical ghost of a man the hero of the civil war Sinalcol .

So two writers from different sides of the middle east both at the height of the career be interesting to see which I enjoy most this time round .

Have you had anything interesting arrive this week ?

Winstons books Translated Non-fiction

Well only two books arrived this week , that said I only read two books myself this week , had a busy week and a bit of a cold has led me not to read as much as usual .

IMG_1977

The first book to arrive was from istros book , Susan asked me if I’d like to try their latest a non fiction work by the leading intellectual and political voice in Albanian life Fatos Lubonja , the book follows the fall of the communist system with in Albania and the chaos of corruption pyramid schemes that followed it .This is also a reminder that I should add a few more Translated works of NON fiction to this blog , my big hope is that someone will translate Thomas Bernhard’s letters to his publisher from German this is one book I would love to read .

IMG_1978

The other book is the finished hardback edition of the new book by Cees nooteboom letter to Poseidon , I can’t wait to share this with you Cees is fast becoming one of my all time favourite writers and also I feel he should be a Nobel winner one day soon ,especially after Modiano won he is very much like him memories mean a lot to Cees .

What books did you have arrive this week ?

More bloody foreigners lunch

hardys brasserie

Well Last month when I was in London Daniela from Europa editions and Susan from Istros books mentioned this event was happening and it would be great if I could come ,as I can usually only afford one trip to London a year I had to turn them down ,then Daniela said they may have the money to get me a train ticket to come for the Lunch .I said I’d love too and thanked them very much ,so yesterday I boarded the train to London arrived just about in time as we ran a bit late ,dashed across london on the tube to Baker street and then  walked to Hardy’s.

a dark song of blood

Three of the writers from the event the night before were there .Ben Pastor ,whom I only got to talk to briefly is Italian writer ,who lives in America and her books are about the German Detective Martin Bora .Her latest is A dark song of Blood   ,her books are published by Bitter Lemon Press who are this year celebrating ten years of publishing Frank their publisher was saying ,they had put their first book out ten years ago .

The art of killing well

Now I got more chance to talk to the other two writers ,I was sat away from the writers  initially but swapped seats ,sat next too Jake Kerridge ,who is the Crime reviewer for the Telegraph on one side and then Andrej Nikolaidis on the other ,opposite was Marco Malvaldi ,I have just read his book the Art of Killing well ,that Maclehose press ,Europa editions have brought out another book by him game for five in their World Noir series  .Marco was quizzed about the food by Barry Forshaw who was sat next too him ,Marco was Polite but this lead into a mention of how Pellegrino Artusi the character of his Book the art of Killing Well ,he was a successful businessman whom later in his life decided to write a book about the food he loved ,because he loved eating and had a wonderful cook but then discovered no-one had written down how to make these dishes  .So Pellegrino spent time travelling round Italy writing this book ,which he initially published as a book for his friends then for friends of friends then an Italian publisher got hold of this book and ask to publish it ,it became an instant bestseller and was in nearly every Italian household at the turn of the century .Marco book is set just as Pellegrino has finished his journey round Italy and is spending the weekend at the house of a Baron ,whilst there the Butler is killed and Pellegrino helps find the killer .I also quizzed Marco about his thoughts on the forthcoming England italy match over the weekend .

the-coming-front-cover1

Now to the last writer ,but actually the first I spoke to on Arrival I saw Susan from Istros book she said Andrej Nikolaidis was outside so I went and had a smoke with Andrej and introduced myself ,I have reviewed both his book The coming and The son  , he also wrote a piece for my Thomas Bernard week about his shared love of the Austrian writer Thomas Bernard  .Andrej spoke to me about Bernard ,football ,putting together his playlists for his books which I had put together on a playlist on spotify .The meal was lovely I had a game terrine followed by Roast pork and finished off with a Chocolate fondant and coffee .I then spent afternoon wandering across London with Susan and Andrej ,talking books ,Tirana ,Kadare ,Russia and the Ukraine some  great stories from Andrej about writers and events around Europe some of  which  were quite eye-opening .We also bumped into two other writers from the Balkans (Not every day you bump into the cream of European lit  which had just arrived for an event today called Balkans day and we finished off with Moroccan mint tea in the cafe near Istros books office at red lion square  chatting away .A lovely day which for me showed the power of books in translation ,the way on one level we can all connected via novels about crime as Violence is violence wherever !  Many thanks for the Art council with out whom I wouldn’t have been able to have come yesterday .

The Truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

the truth about the Harry Qubert affair

The truth about the Harry Quebert affair by Joël Dicker

Swiss fiction

Orginal title La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert

Translator – Sam Taylor

Source – review copy

It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita via goodreads

 

Well in the UK ,you bound to have seen this about it has been really pushed by Waterstones book shop here , which is good to see so often translated fiction doesn’t get the front windows or main tables in book shops .So to Joël Dicker ,he is Swiss writer ,he was born and schooled in Geneva ,he went to Paris to study for a year after school ,then returned and completed a degree in law in Switzerland ,he has always written this his first book has been a runaway success in Europe .it won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise prizes .

“He wrote that book for that girl , Marcus .For a fifteen-year-old girl .I can’t leave the plaque there .That’ not love – it’s disgusting .”

“I think it’s more complicated than that ,” I said .

“And I think you should keep your nose out of this , Marcus .You should go back to New York and stay far away from all this ”

Marcus is told to leave the Harry Quebert affair alone .

 

So what is the book about ,well it is told in two main time lines the first is in the summer of 1975 ,when the character of the title Harry Quebert is spending the summer in Somerset in New Hampshire ,finishing a book which he feels will cement his places as one of the best writers around  his book the origins of evil is maybe more than it first seemed .During this  time he befriends a young girl Nola Kellergran .Now she disappears at the end of this summer this brings us to the other timeline .For 33 years ,later her body is discovered in the yard of the house Harry Quebert was staying in that summer and she is holding a copy of Harry Quebert manuscript.This is where we meet Marcus Goldman ,now he  is a writer just starting his journey as a writer and was taught by Harry Quebrt so he decides to go to Somerset and find pout what really happened and prove that the man he knew so well isn’t the killer and get him free as Harry Quebert now sits in Jail .Along the way the Life of Nola Kellerman isn’t as simple or clean as it once seems as Marcus uncovers more and more about the men she was involved with that summer and what she was really doing .Does he find the killer ,does Harry walk free and what about the two books Harry’s and Marcus’s about Harry’s case ?

The masterpiece I had so desperately wanted to write …. Harry had written it .He had sat at a table in a diner and written words of absolute genius , wonderful sentences that had moved the whole country ,taking care to hide within his work the story of his love affair with Nola Kellergran

The Origins of Evil was Harry’s masterpiece and the book he was writing that summer .

Now this book is great for a début but you do feel after finishing it a good edit and maybe a few changes would have moved it into that instant classic band .But that said it is a wonderful Homage to all things America now Maclehose have gone with a Hopper painting for the cover here and yes this is the america of Hopper and Rockwell .What Joël Dicker has done is taken parts of recent American culture and mixed them so we have part of Twin peaks Nola Kellergran is rather like Laura Palmer in that the more the book unfolds like in the tv show twin peaks the more we gather she isn’t what she first seemed .Part Stephen King that New England and the small town of Somerset could have walked out of a king novel .Part Cold Case drama now I could pick one shpow out but there is a number of shows and books about Cold crime case solving Marcus Goldman is the classic writer turned detective .Part Lolita how many men were attracted to this young women ? Now this book also struck me as part written for a film or tv series ,now that isn’t a bad thing is it ,I mean stephen King has done it for years ,so keep your eyes out for a version of this for a film ,I would love to see a great director get this book in the hands of the likes of David Lynch or Wim Wenders it would really bring out  the darker side of the book out .So I look forward to seeing what Joël Dicker does next ?

Previous Older Entries

February 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728  
%d bloggers like this: