The Household Guide to Dying

2008, 1st
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This is a major creative work, a novel of approximately 100,000 words. It was first published in Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand in May 2008, and has since been published in: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain (including a Catalonian language edition), Brazil, China, Israel, Canada and the USA; paperback editions, audio language editions and reprints have appeared in four of these countries and a film option has been sold. Critical acclaim for the novel in the form of reviews has appeared around the world; it has been endorsed by internationally best selling authors such as Cecilia Ahem and Wally Lamb; and in May 2009 the novel was longlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize for fiction. The Household Guide to Dyingis a contemporary story that examines the dilemma of premature death within a family, and uses a variety of narrative forms to deliver a tale that oscillates between humour and gravity. Letters, emails and extracts from other (fictional) works combine with a narrative of the immediate and distant past to give the reader a sense of the narrator's dislocation within a time of crisis. As a cultural artefact this novel is particularly important in three ways: it explores and challenges taboos regarding death and dying in contemporary culture; and it exploits the idea of the self-help industry in its satirising of the idea of a guide to dying, in which the ironic reference of the title becomes apparent. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it dramatises, and re-interrogates, issues of maternal nurturing and domestic work, including the related anxieties and dilemmas, that feminist theory has been concerned with since the new wave of feminism in the post-1960s.
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