The Home Stretch

Original title: La ligne droite

Author: Gibeau, Yves

Publication Date:

September 2021



Original language and publisher

French | En Exergue

Territories Handled

Worldwide excl. French


Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Sport, WWII

Number of copies sold:



  • 1957 Sports Writers Association Grand Prix (winner)

The Home Stretch

Original title: La ligne droite

Author: Gibeau, Yves


This greater improvement of oneself, this symposium where the being that one is confronts the one that one aspires to become, constitutes precisely one of the themes of Yves Gibeau’s latest novel La Ligne Droite. This book is an event, which brings sport into literature for the first time, without the shadow of complacency. Let us understand that the author does not use athletics as a stepping stone, or running as a pretext to tie up the anecdote. It only adds to the intimately experienced precision of the documentary the natural “suspense” which results from any struggle with the stopwatch. He is passionate about evidence and honesty. Writing here is no longer an artifice, but an art of transposition which reveals and highlights the lines of force and grandeur of one of the faces of human activity. It acts like a revelator and, for many, this story will indeed be a revelation. L’Équipe, 18 Octobre 1956, « La Semaine buissonnière » d’Antoine Blondin 

Preface by Philippe Delerm

Stefan Volker, Germany’s most promising 800-meter runner, is sent to the Eastern Front of World War II. Five years later, his trainer, Julius Henckel, sets off looking for him in a war-shattered Germany. He finds his former protégé alive and well, but Volker has lost an arm and is selling newspapers under a false name at the Munich train station. But even worse than the physical mutilation are the horrors experienced during the war that have left Volker broken in spirit. The Home Stretch tells the story of one man’s attempt to bring another back to life. But is it possible to help a man who refuses to help himself?

A remarkable book that brings sport, for the first time ever, into the arena of literature, without an ounce of complacency. The author does not use athleticism as a leg-up, nor is running a pretext for wrapping up a good story. All he adds to the documentary narrative’s detailed exactitude is the natural ‘suspense’ that comes with any contest involving a stopwatch. The account’s clarity and honesty are utterly captivating. Prose here is not an artifice but rather an art of reordering that reveals and amplifies the underlying strengths and the scope of a particular aspect of human activity. The same way a developing bath reveals an image, the story, for many of us, will indeed be a revelation.