Both of my parents died when I was in my early twenties. I was still immersed in their friend group at the time, as well as close with my extended family and two siblings, so I saw a range of reactions firsthand. It was as if the deaths happened differently for each of us. I found our experiences difficult to reconcile. Grief lay on the far edge of language, mirroring the different facets of intimacy that my parents cultivated with others. Twenty years later and I still respond to that alien quality of death.
Maybe for that reason I have an innate interest in novels that address the final stages of life, and a desire to understand what it must be like for those departing. When death is nearest, I see a taxonomy for life. I become aware of the complex intersections of power, body, external choice, and internal freedom that ultimately define the process of death, and shape the memories of those left behind. I find myself asking: Is death a talent? Can one die well?