Site meeting – sometime after seven o’clock in the morning and Diderot is talking, standing mountainous at the end of the oval table. Bare room, thin partitions, thin carpet hastily placed, smell of glue, smell of new, freeze-dried coffee, classroom chairs dragged in. These accommodate some fifty individuals, among them Sanche Cameron, the crane operator, and Summer Diamantis, the girl in charge of concrete – Diderot watches these two surreptitiously, the boy with the dazzled face, the girl who takes notes without lifting her head. He directed the comment at them when he said, fingers joined in a bouquet over his chest, hey, rookies, call me Diderot.
He clears his throat and begins in a loud voice. Okay, let’s get started. Plan of action: one, dig the ground – he lifts his thumb; two, dredge and clear the river – he lifts his index; three, get started on the concrete – he lifts his middle finger. Turns to pull down a wall-mounted screen, starts up a laptop, turns back, slowly surveys the audience, and then slams down the first words.
Just a taste of Maylis de Kerangal's 2010 Prix-Médicis-winning novel Birth of a Bridge, excerpted today on the BITSblog. Happy Translation Tuesday!