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In Gratitude
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Bloomsbury Publishing 2016
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National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist





A New York Times Notable Book of the Year



"Transcendently disobedient, the most existence-affirming and iconoclastic defense a writer could mount against her own extinction." —Heidi Julavits, New York Times Book Review




From "one of the great anomalies of contemporary literature" (The New York Times Magazine) comes a breathtaking memoir about terminal cancer and the author's relationship with Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing.

In July 2014, Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given "two or three years" to live. She didn't know how to react. All responses felt scripted, as if she were acting out her part. To find the response that felt wholly her own, she had to face the clichés and try to write about it. And there was another story to write, one she had not yet told: that of being taken in at age fifteen by the author Doris Lessing, and the subsequent fifty years of their complex relationship. In the pages of the London Review of Books, to which Diski contributed for the last quarter century, she unraveled her history with Lessing: the fairy-tale rescue as a teenager, the difficulties of being absorbed into an unfamiliar family, the modeling of a literary life. Swooping from one memory to the next—alighting on the hysterical battlefield of her parental home, her expulsion from school, the drug-taking twenty-something in and out of psychiatric hospitals—and telling all through the lens of living with terminal cancer, through what she knows will be her final months, Diski paints a portrait of two extraordinary writers—Lessing and herself. From a wholly original thinker comes a book like no other: a cerebral, witty, dazzlingly candid masterpiece about an uneasy relationship; about memory and writing, ingratitude and anger; about living with illness and facing death.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
5/17/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781632866882
ASIN:
B01D1RUOE0
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Jenny Diski. (2016). In Gratitude. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jenny Diski. 2016. In Gratitude. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jenny Diski, In Gratitude. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jenny Diski. In Gratitude. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Jenny Diski was born in 1947 in London, where she lived most of her life. She was the author of ten novels, four books of travel and memoir, including Stranger on a Train and Skating to Antarctica, two volumes of essays and a collection of short stories. Her journalism appeared in publications including the Mail on Sunday, the Observer and the London Review of Books, to which she contributed more than two hundred articles over twenty-five years.

        jennydiski.co.uk
        @diski
      • name: Jenny Diski
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shortDescription
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"Transcendently disobedient, the most existence-affirming and iconoclastic defense a writer could mount against her own extinction." —Heidi Julavits, New York Times Book Review

From "one of the great anomalies of contemporary literature" (The New York Times Magazine) comes a breathtaking memoir about terminal cancer and the author's relationship with Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing.

In July 2014, Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given "two or three years" to live. She didn't know how to react. All responses felt scripted, as if she were acting out her part. To find the response that felt wholly her own, she had to face the clichés and try to write about it. And there was another story to write, one she had not yet told: that of being taken in at age...
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title
In Gratitude
fullDescription
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"Transcendently disobedient, the most existence-affirming and iconoclastic defense a writer could mount against her own extinction." —Heidi Julavits, New York Times Book Review

From "one of the great anomalies of contemporary literature" (The New York Times Magazine) comes a breathtaking memoir about terminal cancer and the author's relationship with Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing.

In July 2014, Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given "two or three years" to live. She didn't know how to react. All responses felt scripted, as if she were acting out her part. To find the response that felt wholly her own, she had to face the clichés and try to write about it. And there was another story to write, one she had not yet told: that of being taken in at age fifteen by the author Doris Lessing, and the subsequent fifty years of their complex relationship.

In the pages of the London Review of Books, to which Diski contributed for the last quarter century, she unraveled her history with Lessing: the fairy-tale rescue as a teenager, the difficulties of being absorbed into an unfamiliar family, the modeling of a literary life. Swooping from one memory to the next—alighting on the hysterical battlefield of her parental home, her expulsion from school, the drug-taking twenty-something in and out of psychiatric hospitals—and telling all through the lens of living with terminal cancer, through what she knows will be her final months, Diski paints a portrait of two extraordinary writers—Lessing and herself.

From a wholly original thinker comes a book like no other: a cerebral, witty, dazzlingly candid masterpiece about an uneasy relationship; about memory and writing, ingratitude and anger; about living with illness and facing death.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times Magazine
      • content: Diski is one of the great anomalies of contemporary literature; she has made a habit, and a career, of writing books that no one else would even think of writing . . . What binds together the disparate elements of her genre-confounding work— part memoir, part travelogue, part criticism, part rant — is the force of Diski's peculiar personality . . . A marvel of steady and dispassionate self-revelation, Diski's cancer essays are bracingly devoid of sententiousness, sentimentality or any kind of spiritual urge or twitch . . . They also testify to an inner life of undiminished hyperactivity.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian
      • content: Nothing she writes ever sounds like it could have been written by someone else . . . [And] the essay form – part digressive memoir, part journey of exacting critical discovery – has always seemed her natural home . . . She has an uncanny ability to connect wildly disparate ideas and make them spark, to take readers on vivid mystery tours along her own neurological pathways, authorial umbrella held aloft. Her essays are often survival stories. And Diski has survived a great deal.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian
      • content: The force of Jenny Diski's personality, and the penetration of her mind, are as vivid as anything in contemporary journalism . . . She deserves our unfeigned admiration, not for her bravery or her struggle, or an irrelevant tosh like that, bur for writing so well.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: Both heavy and light, Diski's beautifully written memoir is worth any reader's time.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: Sometimes rueful, often oblique, but provocative and highly readable.
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Journal of Books
      • content: I need a replacement word for fierce. I need something slightly less bloodying than savage and something more devastating than captious. I need a word for Jenny Diski's undiminished prose in this, her final book, In Gratitude, which is being released in the U.S. just weeks after her death on April 28, 2016, nearly two years after she was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. I need the right word. Don't have it.
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: While I couldn't read 'In Gratitude' without a persistent lump in my throat, and without the persistent awareness that its author was in a bed, somewhere, experiencing the very last days or hours or minutes of her life, Diski's final book proves transcendently disobedient, the most existence-affirming and iconoclastic defense a writer could mount against her own extinction.
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Times
      • content: [A] searing, no-prisoner's-taken memoir.
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
      • content: In her final memoir before her death, Diski, who was quasi-adopted by Doris Lessing, examines the origin, and the close, of her life as a writer.
      • premium: False
      • source: Christian Lorentzen, Vulture "10 best books of 2016"
      • content: [Diski's] last book is alive with everything that made her great — caustic humor, unrepentant self-scrutiny, a sinuous prose style — and proof that in the hands of some writers, autobiography can be a springboard to limitless possibilities.
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Magazine, Vulture blog
      • content: Diski's North London truancy in the early 1960s, her initiation into writing through Lessing's example, and her dry thoughts about her coming end (who would die first, her or Clive James)-these elements make for the final masterpiece of a writer whose prose always delivered the force of her personality.
      • premium: False
      • source: Open Letters Monthly
      • content: Everyone who reads this book will wish she were still around to sit back and half-smile at our discomfort.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        May 16, 2016
        This revealingly raw memoir by British author Diski (What I Don't Know About Animals) about living with terminal cancer is even more poignant in light of her death on April 28, 2016, shortly before the book's U.S. publication. She spends time indulging in (entirely justifiable) self-pity, but in a manner that is witty and enlightening. From the beginning, Diski draws readers in, describing her emotions upon receiving a cancer diagnosis as "embarrassment" tinged with exhaustion. She then interweaves her experiences dealing with cancer and the subsequent chemotherapy with her memories, highlighting her teenage years living with writer Doris Lessing and the tenuous bond they forged over the next 50 years. Diski dredges up her difficult childhood with bizarre parents—an abusive, perfectionist mother and unscrupulous father—which led to time spent as the youngest patient in a psychiatric unit. Painting a vivid picture of the extreme exhaustion caused by chemo, she relates finding refuge in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which "have always offered me the common sense of my situation." She concludes the book with a series of floating ruminations on life and death. Both heavy and light, Diski's beautifully written memoir is worth any reader's time.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        May 1, 2016
        A winding but elegant valediction from Diski (What I Don't Know About Animals, 2011, etc.), known as a literary journalist and chronicler in England, now resigned to a short tenure on Earth as a "canceree."What is the proper response when the doctor delivers the grim news of an inoperable tumor, an aggressive and untreatable blood condition? The author ponders all the "cancer cliches" that are available to her, deciding on the one hand that she has no major ambitions "except perhaps just lie back and enjoy the morphine" but also concluding that any choice is really not an exercise in free will as much as it is "picking one's way through an already drawn flow-chart." A central figure in her book--more broadly a memoir of intellectual life in a turbulent era than the cancer diary that she first conceived of writing--is the writer Doris Lessing, who took Diski in during a more-than-conflicted adolescence and mined her experiences for her own fiction ("I suppose the fact that she got on with it made the story hers in some way"). Some of the best parts of the book recount table talk with the likes of Robert Graves, Alan Sillitoe, Lindsay Anderson, and R.D. Laing. Diski delivers bittersweetness and resentment in spades, as when she recalls shepherding Lessing's "irritating adoratas from California or thereabout...[who] spoke of Doris as if she were a source of wisdom, and her every move significant." Hopping and skipping across years and topics--"I don't like writing narrative," she protests, "the getting on with what happened next of a story that has a middle, an end, and a beginning"--Diski describes the daily indignities of the cancer patient against a swirling backdrop of mescaline, Dylan, Lennon, and other tropes of her youth, a time of which she deliciously wrote in her book The Sixties (2009). Sometimes rueful, often oblique, but provocative and highly readable.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

awards
      • source: The National Book Critics Circle
      • value: National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
popularity
89
publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing
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