Book Title: The Language of Dying
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism, Novella
Date Read: 10/02/16
Pub Date: 08/02/16
In this emotionally gripping, genre-defying novella from Sarah Pinborough, a woman sits at her father’s bedside, watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters–she is the middle child of five–have all turned up over the past week to pay their last respects. Each is traumatized in his or her own way, and the bonds that unite them to each other are fragile–as fragile perhaps as the old man’s health.
With her siblings all gone, back to their self-obsessed lives, she is now alone with the faltering wreck of her father’s cancer-ridden body. It is always at times like this when it–the dark and nameless, the impossible, presence that lingers along the fringes of the dark fields beyond the house–comes calling.
As the clock ticks away in the darkness, she can only wait for it to find her, a reunion she both dreads and aches for…
This will be a teeny tiny review for a teeny tiny book, but just know it deserves no less than 5 stars in my book. This would be a fantastic gateway book for those looking to enter the magical realism realm without going hardcore right away. Books with cancer patients always get me, since my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer back in 2008. Hallelujah she has been in full remission since then (!!!), but it still always makes me weepy reading about other’s stories, real or not. This particular one is set around a very sick man and his family’s interactions during the last hours of his life.
Clearly the plot is slim and not even the main focus of the book, so let’s just leave it alone and move along. This story was beautiful, tragic, heavy, and poetic all at once; I picked this up on a Sunday evening and read it’s entirety in one sitting, though you could easily take your time and soak up every detail if you chose to. I was particularly moved by the final segments where we walk through the process of dying. Even though I’m still young and hopefully not near my time to go, there was something very scary and disturbing about experiencing these final moments with this sick man and his family. I had to pause at moments to just take in what I was reading and the heavy finality it brought to the story. Needless to say, if you are looking for a book that will sweep you out of your life for a brief moment, one that is gorgeously haunting and will stick with you, this is it.
*I’d like to thank the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review.