Translated from by

Published: February 7th, 2023


ISBN: 9781953861504
This item will be released on February 7, 2023.


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Book Description

Aliocha is racing toward Vladivostok with other Russian conscripts packed on a trans-Siberian train. Soon after boarding, he decides to desert. Over a midnight smoke in a dark corridor of the train, the young soldier encounters an older French woman, Hélène, for whom he feels an uncanny trust. He manages through pantomime and a basic Russian that Hélène must decipher to ask for her help. As they hurry from the filth of his third-class carriage to Hélène’s first-class sleeping car, Aliocha becomes a hunted deserter and Hélène his accomplice with her own recent memories to contend with. Eastbound is both an adventure story and a duet of vibrant inner worlds. In evocative sentences gorgeously translated by Jessica Moore, De Kerangal tells the story of two unlikely souls entwined in a quest for freedom with a striking sense of tenderness, sharply contrasting the brutality of their surrounding world.

Impeccable . . . De Kerangal’s triumphant achievement is powered by mellifluous prose with a rhythm as steady as the train. Readers are in for a dazzling literary ride.
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Eastbound is a novella told in a single breath, quick as a light turned on; intense, precise, unconditional, potent. Jessica Moore’s translation is masterful.
Anne Michaels, author of Fugitive Pieces

As a choreographer knows, if you place a man and a woman on the stage even in an abstract ballet, you already have a story. As Maylis de Kerangal, one of the three or four best French novelists working today, reveals, the story need not be one of physical desire but of shared loneliness and the longing for escape—and of mammalian empathy
Edmund White

A sense of uncertainty about one’s place in the world is central to Eastbound by Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore, not only because the central characters are on a train bound for Siberia and never quite know where they are but also because they are attempting to escape without any idea of what it is they are escaping to. When we first meet Aliocha, he has been conscripted into the Russian army and is terrified about his near future. He feels no comradeship with the hundreds of other conscripts who are also on the train heading to Vladivostock. When he encounters Hélène, a French woman who has impulsively boarded the train after leaving her Russian boyfriend, their mutual understanding transcends language and she discerns what it is that he needs her to do if he is to avoid his unsought future. Using unadorned prose, de Kerangal constructs anxious moments, which defy any sense of inevitability or conclusion.
Declan O'Dricoll, The Irish Times

Richly atmospheric and full of suspense, Eastbound combines a vibrant account of one of the most magical train journeys in the world, with a narrative of a double escape, depicting an unlikely alliance of a French woman trying to leave her lover by travelling in the wrong direction, and a heartbreakingly young Russian draft dodger. It takes a great writer to manage all that so convincingly in one hundred and twenty thrilling pages.
Vesna Goldsworthy, author of Iron Curtain

Though first published in France 10 years ago, there is a contemporary resonance to this slender tale of a young Russian conscript, Aliocha, trying to escape the army on the Trans-Siberian railway and encountering Hélène, a fellow fugitive in flight from her own past.
Ángel Gurría-Quintana, Financial Times, "Best Books of 2022"

The fever burning through this story, and its lyrical escapes don’t curb its sensuality, and precision. [Kerangal’s] language has an incredible driving force. It is both like a stone made up of many crystals, mixing registers with fluidity, and juxtaposing the poetic and the trivial. The whole thing has a unique rhythm, a sense of breathless speed: the sort of graceful rockslide that only she can pull off. In flux between interior and exterior, this is the perfect voyage.
Le Monde des Livres

In this timely novella about a Russian military conscript defecting from the army, 20-year-old Aliocha is on the Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok, spanning almost a quarter of the Earth’s circumference . . . A balance of internal thought and external action propelled by a narrative that races on in long sentences, keeping things flowing beautifully in between moments of drama.
John Self, The Guardian

Eastbound is a compassionate thriller, one where suspense is created around the question of whether one person will aid another. It asks us to remember our humanity and the humanity of others. something which goes beyond nationality and language.
Grant Rintoul, First Reading

This 127 page gem of a book should be in print now with all the news of new conscripts in Russia reluctantly heading to Ukraine. Aliocha is a new conscript heading to Siberia, miserable, who befriends Helene, a Frenchwoman, traveling East on the same train. Beautifully written and translated, this book packs a current punch in its very relatable story.
Annie Philbrick, Mystic Books

Praise for The Heart (also published as Mend the Living)

The Heart is an unusual and often-ravishing novel . . . de Kerangal’s long, rolling sentences pulse along in systolic thumps, each beat punctuated by a comma; they’re packed with emotional intensity
Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

I read The Heart in a single sitting. It is a gripping, deceptively simple tale—a death, a life resurrected—in which you follow along as everyone touched by the events is made to reveal what matters most to them in their lives. I was completely absorbed.
Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal

From its first, hurtling, paragraph-long sentence, this novel vividly dramatizes each step in the organ-donation process . . . It’s the kind of science writing that’s too uncommon, inspiring wonder not by insisting on it but by chronicling every detail.
The New Yorker

I’ve seldom read a more moving book . . . De Kerangal is a master of momentum, to the extent that when the book ends, the reader feels bereft. She shows that narratives around illness and pain can energize the nobler angels of our nature and make for profoundly lovely art. One longs for more.
Lydia Kiesling, The Guardian

Layered, meditative . . . illuminated in rich language . . . This novel is an exploration not only of death but of life, of humanity and fragility . . . the story is propelled by a series of recognitions — incremental, articulated, human moments: narrative earthquakes that break open and pull us deeper into the story.
Priya Parmar, The New York Times Book Review

A novel that goes to the heart of what it means to be a human being.
Amanda Hopkinson, Independent

The Heart is, quite simply, breathtaking in its linguistic precision and impressive in its narrative vision, a feat of textual dexterity made visible in English by Sam Taylor's excellent translation.
Alexandra Primiani, Music and Literature

Urgent, breathless, visceral prose . . . Long after reading this extraordinary novel that etches itself in the mind, it will be impossible to forget.
Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

Praise for Painting Time

There is something magnificently true about De Kerangal’s fiction, which braids technical fluency with winged prose . . . 'Capsules of pure sensation' – it’s a description worth stealing to describe this novel, which is strung together image by beautiful image. This is writing that defies haste, that slows the eye . . . one of contemporary fiction’s most gifted sentence builders.
Beejay Silcox, The Guardian

Who else writes with such poetry about the tools of trade, and the intricacies of work? Michael Ondaatje springs to mind, but Maylis de Kerangal is mining a rich and individual seam.
Jonathan Gibbs, Times Literary Supplement

Celebrated French novelist Kerangal . . . is a master of the metaphysical bildungsroman . . . [An] enthralling tale of vocation, discovery, and love . . . Kerangal balances the gloriously sensuous with the deeply reflective in an exquisite and omniscient streaming narration as she explores the title's implications . . . Kerangal’s elegant, sexy, subtly Proustian, and fluidly dimensional drama of discipline and passion, imitation and imagination is resplendently evocative and exhilarating.
Donna Seaman, Booklist

Praise for The Cook

A slim, bountiful, beautifully written (and gorgeously translated) 'Portrait of the Chef as a Young Man.'
Nancy Klinke, The New York Times Book Review

Brief but superb . . . the book is restrained, private, and careful.
The New Yorker

This short book, beautifully translated by Sam Taylor, reads like a prose poem . . . de Kerangal’s food writing is incantatory; the accumulation of minutiae hypnotic . . . I was left hungry for more.
Moira Hodgson, Wall Street Journal