Sébastien Rutés ‘Mictlán’

Quai du Polar 2021: Books shortlisted for the readers prize, Number 6

Sébastien Rutés: Mictlán (GALLIMARD)


….he quite simply gives him the wheel, they swap places with difficulty because Fats is fat, and Fats begins to piss out of the window at last, wathing out for sign posts, dogs lift their snouts from the carcass of a dead horse to watch him pass, Fats thinks to hi self that they have petrol for another four hours, maybe less now, he’ll have to wake up now at the next service station, he won’t be able to sleep for twelve straight hours like Old-Timer, that’s how it is, sometimes it happens for one of them, sometimes for the other, they’ve agreed to wake each other up, no one stops this fucking truck by themselves, no one gets down alone, one fills the tank whilst the other hurries to buy something to eat and drink, Fats holding the butt of his weapon, so far they’ve been lucky,……..***


Two men driving a truck full of dead bodies, never stopping, for ever? Mictlán, or the Aztec hell is a fair definition of the first chapter, 39 pages, 4 paragraphs, no full stops. I had read a comment of despair about this before hand and can safely now say I share this despair and have no energy or will to go further. In spite of this I read the second chapter before giving up. This is definitely in sixth place!

First Published in French as “Mictlán” in 2020 by GALLIMARD.
*** My translation

….il lui passe tout simplement le volant, ils échangent leur place difficilement parce que Gros est gros, et Gros se met à la fenêtre pour pisser enfin, en faisant bien attention aux panneaux indicateurs, des chiens sortent leur museau noir d’une carcasse de cheval crevé pour le regarder passer, Gros se dit qu’il reste de l’essence pour quatre heures, peut-être moins maintenant, il va devoir se réveiller à la prochaine station-service, il ne pourra pas dormir ses douze heures d’affilée comme Vieux, c’est comme ça, des fois ça tombe sur l’un et des fois sur l’autre, ils se sont mis d’accord pour se réveiller, personne n’arrête ce putain de camion tout seul, personne n’en descend tout seul, il y en a un qui fait le plein pendant que l’autre se dépêche d’acheter à manger et à boire, Gros la main sur la crosse de son arme, jusqu’ici on a eu de la chance,…

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