Mathias Malzieu - The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (4 stars)

Mathias Malzieu - The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

Perhaps the most fantastical thing about this book is its depiction of an Edinburgh where a tumble-down old house owned by a woman who births the children of prostitutes and unfaithful women sits at the top of Arthur’s Seat. In any event, it’s the wintry, gothic character of the city that Mathias Malzieu has adopted, rather than its geographical precision.

Malzieu, as the lead singer of the eccentric French band Dionysos, has been described as ‘a genius’ by Eric Cantona and ‘Francois Truffaut with a band’ by Iggy Pop. This Tim Burtonesque fable is based on his group’s concept album La Mécanique du Cœur and concerns a dispossessed child who must be saved shortly after birth by the implantation of a cuckoo-clock motor in his defective heart.

It’s a short read about growing up which should resonate with all ages, couched in beautiful description and metaphor that weathers the translation process well.

(Chatto & Windus)

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