Tuesday, 9 April 2019

RETRO REVIEWING: Mend the Living - Maylis De Kerangal

I thought I had located all my past reviews and posted them firmly on my blog for posterity ( or until the internet implodes) but I came across this brief review that has somehow slipped through the net. I think I put it in the wrong folder where it has been sitting quietly, until now. I never seemed to write as expansively then. If I we reviewing this book today I know I would have written a whole lot more. The copy I received was not a physical book, it was that abomination - an ebook. So I think my thoughts of giving up on it were more to do with the format than the book. The paperback was published on 23rd June 2016 and  won the Wellcome Prize in 2017. Rightly so. 

If you told me that a novel about a heart transplant would be a compelling and beautiful experience I might have laughed at you. But this unique book, Mend The Living a.k.a. The Heart, is both of those and more besides.

Initially as I read the opening pages I was dubious. it didn’t seem as if it was my thing. I confess I had thoughts of giving up on it, not something I do frequently nor lightly. But I persevered, and thank goodness I did.

This book details the twenty four hours in the lives of all the people who play a part in a heart transplant operation. The detail is meticulous and the resulting prose within which that detail is enveloped is quite extraordinary and poetic, a credit to the writer and the translator. There are many paradoxes here between the subjective and the objective, the empathic and the clinical , a treatise on Yin and Yang. It is beautifully balanced.

There are no chapters as such in the book, it is almost one long prose poem to compassion and humanity. An acknowledgement  of grief and loss and the greater good. So forgive me if I am unable to comment on the plot and the characters etc, this book is beyond that, beyond comment. 

I feel in some ways changed by this novel and I commend it to you from the bottom of MY heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment