cover image Birth of a Bridge

Birth of a Bridge

Maylis de Kerangal . Translated from French by Jessica Moore. Talonbooks (Consortium, U.S. dist.; PGC/Raincoast, Canadian dist.), $16.95 trade paper (249p) ISBN 978-0-88922-889-4

French novelist de Kerangal creates a modern saga chronicling the construction of a colossal bridge. The original edition won both the 2010 Prix M%C3%A9dicis and the 2010 Prix Franz Hessel. Beginning with an international consortium winning the tender and hundreds of people%E2%80%94project managers, engineers, crane operators, truck drivers%E2%80%94converging on a small town in California, the novel weaves their individual stories into one grand narrative. While the bridge undoubtedly will bring prosperity to the town, the native groups and the as-yet unspoiled land on the far side of the river will be forever compromised. Opposition groups form, progress is threatened. And progress itself is an ambiguous element in the novel, often taking the form of political corruption. But there is also lyricism and beauty to be found through each character's obsessive outlook on the land and the bridge. Moore (winner of the PEN America Translation Award) 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. (Oct.)