Book Review: UK Edition of Birth of a Bridge

Published this week on Bookanista was a high-flying, beam-balancing, river-straddling review of Jessica Moore’s translation of Birth of a Bridge, a riveting novel by Maylis de Kerangal. Reviewer Mika Provata-Carlone calls it

a strikingly original contemporary myth and a thrilling investigation of post-modernity.

The story is simple, absorbingly technical, full of tactile details and well-grounded practicalities. In a realistically imaginary city in California called Coca, a powerful mayor who has climbed to the summit of success from the pits of powerless anonymity, yearns for his new-found status to be set in stone. To that purpose, he conceives of a massive public work, a bridge to straddle the river that divides the city’s shores. The project is demanding, Herculean, gargantuan, and can only be realised with the contribution of international construction companies, conglomerates, multi-coloured and multi-ethnic tribes of workmen and specialists converging on Coca with that single aim, the Birth of the Bridge. …

The novel has a strong picaresque quality as well as a masterly epic Western dimension. It is a quest for something unnamed, something unknown, symbolically embodied by the bridge, with powerful impetus and thrust, both narrative and verbal, a constant sense of mobility – and at the same time stagnation. …

Maylis de Kerangal is one of the most beautiful and dynamic writers that France has produced in a very long time. She has the relish of words and of storytelling of all those who came before her in her craft … above all there is sparkling new writing and old quality in whatever she creates. Birth of a Bridge is her first novel to be translated into English – powerfully and elegiacally by Jessica Moore – and there is no doubt that it will mark a change in perception, in appreciation, in humanity, in readers and writers alike.

Provata-Carlone has much more to say; Read the full review online – but beware, it includes spoilers!

Also check out the North American edition of the novel, which is available from Talonbooks.