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Birth of a Bridge

Maylis de Kerangal; Jessica Moore (Translator)

Published by Talonbooks (Canada), October 2014.


From one of the most exciting novelists writing in France today comes Birth of a Bridge – the story of a handful of men and women of various backgrounds and classes, who assemble around the construction of a giant suspension bridge in Coca, a fictional city somewhere in a mythical and fantastic California.

Told on a sweeping scale reminiscent of classic American adventure films, this Médicis Prize–winning novel chronicles the lives of these individuals, who represent a microcosm of not just mythic California, but of humanity as a whole. Their collective effort to complete (or oppose) the mega-project recounts one of the oldest of human dramas, to domesticate – and to radically transform – our world through built form, with all the dramatic tension it brings: a threatened strike, an environmental dispute, sabotage, accidents, career moves, and love affairs … Here generations and social classes cease to exist, and everyone and everything converges toward the bridge as metaphor, a cross-cultural impression of America today.

De Kerangal’s writing has been widely praised for its scope, originality, and use of language. Her rich prose plays with different registers (from the most highly literary to the most colloquial slang) as well as speed and tension through grammatical ellipsis and elision. She employs a huge vocabulary and invents new relationships between words in a completely innovative use of language.



“A modern saga chronicling the construction of a colossal bridge. … there is … lyricism and beauty to be found through each character’s obsessive outlook on the land and the bridge. Moore stays true to de Kerangal’s unique prose, which flows from the mythic to the mundane. Her translation is clear and unadorned. The story told through its varied cast of characters, alternating from the grandiose to the intimate, is one that will stay with readers long after the book is closed and the bridge is built.”– Publishers’ Weekly

“The whole narrative unfolds in a dreamlike manner, and Moore’s translation is elegant and sensitively attuned to the author’s wordplay and neologisms.”– Kirkus Reviews

“First, there is Maylis de Kerangal’s prose – a fast-flowing, meandering river of awesome depth, scintillating with flashes of brilliance, gripping and treacherous as roiling underwater currents. Hovering over it is the story itself, a grandiose, gravity-defying feat of narrative structure, acting as a bridge between reality and myth, development and nature, megalomania and intimacy, and attracting the most varied set of characters ever assembled – nomads of the modern world sharing this surreal space suspended between two shores, living outside the boundaries of ordinary life. A delicate balance to maintain, assuredly, but which the novel manages to perfection.”– Martine Desjardins, author of Maleficium and other novels

“Strong emotion carried by a lexically rich style.”– Journal du Dimanche

“Maylis de Kerangal has a flair for describing the landscapes that are at the heart of her novel – landscapes of tremendous beauty, for the reader who wishes to travel through the act of reading.”– La Presse


More information here.