The Heart: A Novel
Maylis de Kerangal
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Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. Returning home, exhausted, the driver lets the car drift off the road into a tree. Two of the boys are wearing seat belts; one is sent through the windshield. He is declared brain-dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. His heart is still beating.
The Heart takes place over the twenty-four hours surrounding a fatal accident and a resulting heart transplant as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death. In gorgeous, ruminative prose it examines the deepest feelings of everyone involved--grieving parents, hardworking doctors and nurses--as they navigate decisions of life and death. As stylistically audacious as it is emotionally explosive, Maylis de Kerangal's The Heart has mesmerized readers in France, where it has been hailed as the breakthrough work of a new literary star.
something that, in the past, survived unscathed, something that triggers the pain of impossible journeys back in time. One day, she must find out what direction time flows in—whether it’s linear or the quick circle of a hula hoop, whether it curls and loops or is coiled like the spiral of a snail’s shell, whether it can take the form of a tube wave, sucking up the sea, the entire universe, into its dark flip side. Yes, she needs to understand what it is that makes up the passing of time. Marianne
wood dusting his hair, encrusted in the folds of his clothes, in the stitching of his wool sweater. She stands up abruptly, and her chair tips over backward—landing with a clatter—but she doesn’t turn around: she stands facing him, one hand lying flat on the table to support her unsteady legs, the other hanging down at her side. They look at each other for a fraction of a second, then one step forward and they embrace, hug each other so hard it’s as if they’re being crushed together, heads
that helped them, carrying them hurriedly to their son’s bedside, but which also delivered them inexorably into blackness and sadness: there was nothing to hinder their progress, delay their arrival. Of course, they both think about a dramatic turnaround, the miraculous idea of this all being a mistake—the images in the scanner being accidentally inverted, an error of interpretation, a computer bug, a simple typo, these things happen, just like people sometimes take home the wrong baby from a
thoracic surgeons fight over who will get what length of that stump of vein, where they scrap over a few extra millimeters of pulmonary arteries. Virgilio is a good and generous colleague, but he’s tense, and he ends up snapping at the man opposite him: Leave me something, will you? I don’t think a centimeter or two is too much to ask! * * * Thomas Rémige has slipped out of the operating theater to phone the several hospital departments where the transplants will take place: he has to
to express any kind of gratitude to the donor or the donor’s family, never mind offer a gift in return in order to free herself from this infinite debt, and the idea that she will be permanently trapped crosses her mind. The floor is ice-cold under her feet. She is afraid. Her whole being flinches. She walks over to the window. Figures hurry down paths in the hospital grounds; cars move slowly between the buildings that, in the night, redraw the anatomical map of the human body, organ by organ,