BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story by Edwidge Danticat [in Library Journal]

Compassion goes a long way when writing about death – especially the death of loved ones. Narrating such a book requires a gentleness, a soothing rhythm. That Danticat reads her latest nonfiction – a thoughtful meditation bookended by her mother’s fatal cancer diagnosis and Danticat’s final goodbye – endows further nuance to a difficult, albeit quotidian, subject.

In between revealing personal accounts of loss, Danticat explores how other writers have depicted death on the page, channeling inspiration from Gabriel García Márquez to Mumia Abu-Jamal, from Peter Pan to Anna Karenina. Through examining the works of dozens of fellow writers (the printed book includes five pages of “Works Referenced”), Danticat considers long lives, unnatural endings including suicide and death row, even protagonists whose stories are told post-mortem. Death is the newest addition in Graywolf’s 10-year-old Art of-series featuring “brief, witty, and useful exploration[s] of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry by a writer impassioned by a single craft issue.”

Verdict: Despite minor production flaws (the exact repetition of at least two sentences), this slim volume undoubtedly remains an insightful, even comforting literary gift.

Review: modified from “Audio,” Library Journal, January 1, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2017


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