Review: The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal {Translated by Sam Taylor}


Title: The Heart

Author: Maylis de Kerangal  Translated by Sam Taylor

Published: February 9th 2016, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Status: Read February 2016, courtesy Macmillan



My Thoughts:

I selected this novel for the Read Around the World Challenge, The Heart is the work of French author Maylis de Kerangel translated into English by Sam Taylor.

Three young men are on their way home from an early morning surf when they are involved in a devastating accident. Simon Limbres is thrown through the windscreen, and is declared brain dead, though his heart is still beating.

Set over the next 24 hours, The Heart illuminates Simon’s journey between life and death. As Simon’s parents, Marianne and Sean, try to come to grips with their nightmarish reality, we are given a window into the lives of those with whom he intersects, from that of the Coordinating Committee for Organ and Tissue Removal who must broach the delicate subject of donation, to Claire, who is waiting for a miracle.

Kerangal’s writing is at times quite exquisite, however I often struggled with the style of prose. With page long sentences, a complete lack of speech marks, and sometimes an odd rhythm, I thought that the translation may have played a part, but I’m assured that it is faithful to the original (Sam Taylor won an award for it).

I believe strongly in the value of organ donation. I’m a registered donor and actively encourage family and friends to be also, so I feel that The Heart bears an important message.

“Simon’s heart was migrating to one part of the country, his kidneys, liver, and lungs entering other regions, rushing toward other bodies. What would remain, in this fragmentation, of the unity of her son? How could she attach her singular memory to that diffracted body? What will become of his presence, of his reflection on earth, of his ghost? These questions circle her like fiery hoops, and then Simon’s face forms before her eyes, intact and unique. He is irreducible; he is Simon. She feels a deep sense of calm.”

For the literary high-minded, The Heart will likely draw praise, but I’m afraid for most of us, myself included, the authors stylistic quirks will be too off-putting to truly appreciate it.



Available to Purchase via

Macmillan I Indiebound I Amazon US I Book Depository


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | book'd out

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