Original title: Étraves
In the beginning was the Flood. Planet Earth became Planet Water. Only a handful of archipelagos emerged above the surface here and there, proudly defended by the few remaining land-based people. Everyone else was afloat on the high seas.
Aboard The Ghost a community has rebuilt itself, complete with new customs, a new hierarchy and a New Law. The sailors, ravaged by scurvy, hunger and salt, hold out as best they can, and very few of them can remember the ancient times. It is as though life has virtually come to a halt on the boundless ocean and that survival is all that can reasonably be hoped for.
Standing at the prow one evening, Little Ginger confronts the rest of the crew. His mother Cuddle has just died, and in this world of rising waters he quietly gave her his word that he would find a little island where he could bury her with dignity – even if this means betraying his own, taking flight, and disappearing alone into this turbulent expands. Leaping from one boat to the next in search of this promised land and contending with the wrath of both the elements and his fellow man, he risks his own life to defends his mother’s dead body as he travels to the ends of the ocean and the forbidden garden.
In Étraves, Sylvain Coher reinvents the seafaring tale in striking prose that it both precise and playful, as if freshly emerged from the floods. He serves up a timeless odyssey that nevertheless resonates forcefully with certain concerns of our current age and above all reacquaints us with the incomparable pleasures of fiction and all the stories that our imaginations are capable of engendering.