The 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival welcomes author Maylis de Kerangal.
Maylis de Kerangal is a French author, whose first novel, Birth of a Bridge (Naissance d’un Pont), presents a literary saga of a handful of men and women who are charged with building a bridge somewhere in a mythical California.
Her setting is Coca, a fictional California city that sits beside a vast river, “a long golden cobra lazing and wild, lying curved like a trigger across an entire continent”. Few locals seem to need a new crossing, but ambition and money talk, and plans are made for a suspension bridge 6,200ft long and 100ft wide that will put Coca on the map.
The result is a feverish coming together of men, women and technology as project managers, construction workers and hangers-on swarm, and great machines tear the earth and inch their way into the sky. There’s sorrow, for the way lives are uprooted and the land colonised, but there’s a tremendous, jubilant energy too, in a book that sings of global development in all its ugliness and glory.
Birth of a Bridge (Naissance d’un Pont) was published in 2010 and awarded both the Prix Médicis and the Premio Gregor von Rezzori, and has been translated into several languages worldwide.
Her novel Mend the Living (Réparer les vivants) published in 2014, won the 2017 “Welcome Book Prize” (UK) for writing that encompasses medicine, health or illness. Maylis de Kerangal is the first French author to win the award.
Mend the Living is the story of a heart transplant, which cascades with the irresistible impetus of an Atlantic roller from the death of a teenager in a van accident as he returns with his friends from an early morning surfing session, to the implantation of his heart into a middle-aged woman.
“From its glorious 300-word first sentence to the stately canopic imagery of its climactic scenes, Mend the Living mimics the rhythm of the processes it depicts – the troughs and peaks of grief and protocol, of skills utilised and acceptance finally achieved,” – M John Harrison (Guardian Reviewer).