Dying: a Memoir


By Cory Taylor

cover image of Dying: a Memoir

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'Dying is bracing and beautiful, possessed of an extraordinary intellectual and moral rigor...Every human should read it.' New York Times

One of President Barack Obama's top ten reads of 2017

Cory Taylor wrote this remarkable book in the space of a few weeks before her death from melanoma-related cancer in July 2016. In a tremendous creative surge, as her body weakened, she described the experience of knowing she would soon die.

Her powerful and beautifully written book is a clear-eyed account of the tangle of her feelings, her reflections on her life, her memories of the lives and deaths of her parents. She tells us why it was important to her to have the ability to choose the circumstances of her death.

Dying: A Memoir is a breathtaking book about vulnerability and strength, courage and humility, anger and acceptance. It is a deeply affecting meditation on dying, but it is also a funny and wise tribute to life.

Cory Taylor was born in Queensland in 1955. She was an award-winning novelist and screenwriter who also published short fiction and children's books. Her first novel, Me and Mr Booker, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Pacific Region) in 2012 and her second novel, My Beautiful Enemy, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2014. She died on 5 July 2016, a couple of months after Dying: A Memoir was published.

'The book rings louder in my imagination the more time I spend apart from it...Taylor's prose is clear and direct, with flashes of surpassing loveliness...it has a startling offhand grace...Taylor writes that she will most miss her husband and the faces of her children. They will surely miss her, too. But it's at least something — maybe a tiny bit lucky, even — that this gorgeous piece of her remains.' New York Times

'If a more open discussion of death is needed in the West, Taylor's book is a manual for the task. It is full of wisdom and vulnerability; it is also profoundly reassuring. Dying, she repeatedly says, is deeply lonely. No one can do it with you. But this book might be a companion, made all the more solid by its lack of sentimentality and any other false comforts.' Times Literary Supplement 

'A fine and sorrowful finale.' Sydney Morning Herald

'What is truly profound about this book is that—though it ought to be harrowing—it is astonishingly easy, if not strangely uplifting, to read. In part, this is because the narrative voice is so gentle, and tightly controlled. Every scene has a radiant quality; it glows.' Conversation

'...As this quietly remarkable book illustrates, that kind of looking entails its own tribute to the sweetness of life.' Radio Australia

'Unflinchingly honest...This deep meditation is beautifully written and destined to be an important piece of the conversation surrounding death. Taylor's last testament to life is a welcome departing gift from a thoughtful and inspired author.' STARRED review, Publishers Weekly

'An eloquent plea for a more humane approach to death and a moving meditation on the life that leads to that end.' STARRED review, Kirkus Reviews

'Brave and funny, rare and honest.' Bookseller UK

Dying: a Memoir