In this where A.J.Cronin-meets-Sebastian Faulks-meets-Atul Gawande novel, Ms.Maylis De Kerangal reaches her apogee of narration and imagination. This is a book which will poleaxe, pummel and pulverise you and yet leaving you craving for more once the covers have come down. Easily one of the best books to have been published in 2017, “The Heart” is more than just the functioning of the most recognizable and talked about organ in the human body. It is a cathartic mingling of personalities and pathos, events and consequences and an ineluctable sweep of fate and destiny.
Nineteen-year-old Simon Limbres wakes up at the break of a bitingly cold dawn and with two of his equally effervescent friends’ troops into a van before heading to the beach. Obsessed with tunnel waves, point breaks and levee breakers, Simon is an egregious surfer with towering ambitions to conquer some of the world’s most well renowned ‘killer waves’. Satiated with an hour of pitting their wits and wills against the force of Mother Nature, the fatigued trio begin driving back to their respective homes. An inevitable lapse of concentration results in a devastating accident during the course of which Simon is hurled through the windshield thereby suffering irreversible brain damage that leaves him in a state of coma depasse. However, if Simon’s traumatized parents Marianne and Sean can give their consent, Simon’s vital organs including the heart may be harvested and donated to people who are in critical needs of them, and transplanting of which would prolong their now not so uncertain future.
What follows is a raw, unhinged, unforgettable story involving larger than life genius surgeons, stupefied organ recipients going through cruelly vacillating emotions such as an inundation of hope, and an immersion of faith, a catastrophic set of parents whose lives have come to a crushing halt due to the irreconcilable demise of their son, stoic organ transplant coordinators, and wide-eyed and hollowed out interns who are in awe of the deified status of their superiors. Throw in the feral emotions of a soccer game between Italy and France at the Stade de France and the hauntingly piercing melodies of a rare breed of Algerian goldfinches, and what you have is an astounding, surreal and multilayered fabric of exquisite imagination that will leave you in an indescribable state of mixed emotions. Medicine, philosophy and spirituality get willingly tangled in an inextricable nexus of resignation, remorse, recrimination and revelation. There is no longer a distinction between the call of duty and a state of torpor. Operating theatres, mortuaries and living rooms take on hues that are merely manifestations of one huge all-encompassing prism, a prism that takes no prisoners and brooks no excuses.
“The Heart” is as much a testimony to the magnificent capability of Sam Taylor – in translating the work from the original – as it is to the genius of Ms. Kerangal. Neither a barrage of adjectives, nor prolonged and verbose sentences can do justice in reviewing this book. The only way one can absorb the essence of the book is to read it.
Please get your copy N.O.W!