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Mend the Living

by Maylis de Karangal

A young man lies in a coma on life support, his body kept alive for the possibility of an organ transplant operation. This heartbreaking but unsentimental account of the 24 hour limbo between life and death is written like a lyrical epic poem to the miracles of medical science – a multi-perspective stream of consciousness which is compelling in its detailed unravelling of the complex ethics, protocols and shifts of perception involved.

Extract

It might be a yes, more likely a no, and, it happens – one third of meetings end in refusal – but for Thomas Remige, a clear refusal was worth more than a consent torn from someone in confusion, delivered with forceps, and regretted fifteen days later when people are ravaged by remorse, losing sleep and sinking in sorrow, we have to think of the living, he often says, chewing the end of a little match, we have to think of the ones left behind – on the back of his office door, he had taped a photocopied page from Platinov, a play he’s never seen, never read, but this fragment of dialogue between Voinitzev and Triletzki, found in a newspaper left lying around at the laundromat, had made him quiver the way a child discovering his fortune quivers, a Charizard in the pack of Pokemon cards, a golden ticket in the chocolate bar. What shall we do, Nicolas? Bury the dead and mend the living.

Parallels

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin
 

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