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Now and at the Hour of Our Death

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  320 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A nurse sleeps at the bedside of his dying patients; a wife deceives her husband by never telling him he has cancer; a bedridden man has to be hidden from his demented and amorous eighty-year-old wife. In her poignant and genre-busting debut, Susana Moreira Marques confronts us with our own mortality and inspires us to think about what is important. Accompanying a palliati ...more
Kindle Edition, 128 pages
Published September 3rd 2015 by And Other Stories (first published October 1st 2012)
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Viv JM
This short book is very interesting and very moving. The author, a journalist, spent some time with a palliative care project in a remote part of Portugal, and this book is the result.

The first part "Travel Notes about Death" was my favourite. It comprises short snippets from the lives of the dying and their families, along with the thoughts of the author. It reads very much like poetry and is quite beautiful in places. As well as the dying of the body, the book seems to be pointing towards a dy
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was my “purse book” and since I don’t often carry a purse, it took me awhile to finish, short as it is. It got read at doctors’ offices mostly, which might have made for uncomfortable reading due to its theme but didn’t due to its empathy. The writer has listened and sensitively interpreted the stories of the families, lives, and deaths of a few people in a remote area of Portugal who were participating in a “home palliative care project.”

It’s also not a book I would’ve normally bought e
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, hispanic
This is beautiful writing (and translating).

I spend a fair amount of time now visiting at an assisted living home, and in other venues with the elderly, and so this speaks very closely and truly to what I see. The last chapter in the volume, worth the entire price, orders the words of a thirtyish woman who has lost her father to cancer. She talks about how before she spent time around the dying the reality of it never occcurred to her, and now it is all she can think about. That sounds flat, whe
In 2011 Marques, a freelance journalist, spent five months visiting the dying through a Portuguese home palliative care project. The resulting book falls into two parts: “Travel Notes about Death,” one-line aphorisms and several-paragraph anecdotes; and “Portraits,” case studies and interview transcripts from three families facing the death of a loved one. By not imposing strict structure on the speech blocks or her own thoughts, Marques shows that death is not orderly or predictable. However, t ...more
In this unique book, Susana Moreira Marques compiles the memories, stories, and meditations of people in a home-based palliative care program in northern Portugal. Moreira Marques is a journalist, and she uses this reportage and interview style in the book, constructing layered oral histories of these people who are transitioning into death.

The book opens with a beautiful section entitled Travel Notes about Death. The small sections are interpretations, and meditations on various conversations
Pickle Farmer
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars
This was such a difficult book for me to read. It was really emotional, I cried a lot, and I could not have read it in one sitting. I had long pauses in between even though the book is really short.

I have never read a book like this. It is decidedly about death, but also decidedly about life. And despite how sad and moving many parts were, it was also strangely beautiful and hopeful.

The first part, the travel notes of the author, was not really my cup of tea, but as soon as she got onto the liv
Alice Lippart
Aug 27, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting read. Thought the first part was fantastic, but the second part with the portraits didn't quite reach me for some reason. ...more
Jen Hirt
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an odd little book that I only know about because I heard the author read alongside Leslie Jamison in Lisbon, Portugal in 2015. Jamison, who blurbs the book, had almost speechless admiration for Susana Moreira Marques, and for good reason. You might say a lot has been said about death, and you'd be right, and then you should go read this book. In it, Marques follows doctors, nurses, and family members involved in the stages of palliative care, which is letting people die in as much comfo ...more
Milena Widdowson
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I can with all honesty say that I would never have picked up Now and at the Hour of Our Death had it not been this month’s Read Around the World Book Club selection. I would not have considered a non-fiction book written about an author’s experience shadowing a palliative care team in the remote regions of Portugal to be my thing. My response to this book was therefore a huge surprise to me as I thought it was a really well written book full of insight into how we human beings deal with death an ...more
Structurally, this book reminded me of Svetlana Alexievich's THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR: both texts include extensive extracts from interview transcripts (with the author/interviewer's questions and comments cut out so the result comes across as a somewhat rambling monologue), as well as the author's notes and reflections, presented in a loose, almost fragmentary style, as if they have been lifted directly from her diary, with zero editing. I very much enjoyed these parts told from the author's p ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 2011, Susana Moreira Marques, a freelance journalist, spent five months accompanying a Portuguese home palliative care project. The team of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals help patients live the end of their lives in as much comfort as possible, in company, at home.
This book is the result of Marques' visit to these people and their families.

The first part consists of "Travel Notes about Death", which are short observations about dying and death: beautiful and economical w
Betty Asma
The 'portraits' are of people in northeastern Portugal, the region called Trás-os-Montes. Their lives and eventual deaths come through descriptions by family and community members. The life stories extend to a farm in Portuguese-speaking Angola for one couple. The community and several towns in this area surrounded on two sides by Spain also come alive in the telling about its inhabitants. The narratives focus sequentially on Paula, the husband and wife João and Maria, and the sisters Elisa and ...more
J Thayre
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
And Other Stories is a small publishing house, publishing indie books translated into English. I decided to subscribe for 2019 and also ordered a women in translation bundle. The women in translation bundle consisted of three books, one of them is Now and At the Hour of Our Death. This is a wonderful, life-affirming book.

Read more of this review here: https://aroundtheworldonefemalenoveli...
Sarah-louise Raillard
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A unique and moving look at death - and a beautiful translation by Julia Sanches.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars. I feel like this should have been a really emotional and devastating read, but it didn't really get to me. ...more
Margo Andrews
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
appropriate, but difficult.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved working my way through this book, despite its difficult topic. It's moving, without treading into that typical and uncomfortable sentimental/corny area.

I've seen many reviews praising the first half of the work (travel notes and thoughts) but feeling a disconnect in the second half (with interviews, portraits). Oddly enough, while I appreciated the first half, I got the most out of the second half: the people's words, stories, lives. There is news, then endurance, and ultimately loss and
For Books' Sake
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Part oral history, part travelogue; in her lyrical debut Susana Moreira Marques speaks to families in a far corner of Northern Portugal facing death, whilst also addressing her own mortality.
When the marketing of this book called it fresh and original, I was secretly unconvinced I would agree. Haven’t humans been writing about death for thousands of years? What new ways can there be to approach it? Well, I can’t claim to have read everything ever written about death, but this book certainly felt
Mark Hudson
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written by a Portuguese journalist, but largely eschewing journalese, this part-memoir, part-impressionistic-fragment tells briefly of the last days in the deaths of a few, leftover rural inhabitants in a remote spot (Tras-os-Montes) in north-east Portugal.

Something of the poignancy of these tough-minded humans in their last days - not so different from the rest of us, when you get down to it - is captured in the spare and sensitively felt style of Moreira (and her translator). What comes throug
Shelley Day Sclater
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This little gem of a book is a kind of meditation on dying. The author spent time with a palliative care team and with patients and their families in their last days together. The first half of the book comprises brief notes on what the author saw and felt, and fleeting thoughts on death and dying. There is, she says, little that is literary about death. This Section of the book is great - interesting, insightful, innovative, and very humane. For this bit alone, I'd give it 5. The second part co ...more
Susan Eubank
Here are the questions discussed at the Reading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Arboretum Library of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden on June 28, 2017:
(view spoiler)
Andy McDougall
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
A fascinating, moving and thoughtfully crafted work that, crucially for such a sensitive subject matter, finds the right tone, neither too sentimental nor too clinical.

Susana Moreira Marques, skilfully translated by Julia Sanches, gives us a unique insight into the lives of the terminally ill and those around them, both through the author's musings and the first-person accounts from her subjects, presenting us with something that is at times relatable and always deeply human. Death is not a new
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Although the subject of this book purports to be on death and dying as viewed from the prospective of a palliative care team, it is really a compilation of meditations by the author and excerpts from interviews that she conducted with three terminally ill people and/or members of their families. The book provides few insights into the subject matter. There are other books that are far more informative on the subject of death and dying than this one for those interested in the subject, and how a ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Life is a series of realizations and endings, not necessarily new beginnings, but sometimes, too. We hear the author's realizations, echoed in the midst of others' endings and realizations. The book is not meant to give insight or to provide a feel-good perception on illness and death... it shares the real and raw reality that accompanies a few people's experiences as death occurs. ...more
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A graceful and technically accomplished take on death, and how we might better approach it. Also very effective at evoking the eroding landscape of northern Portugal, both cultural and natural
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
A great book for a lay person. Interestingly, I read it completely while waiting in the ER for my dad to be seen for a nasty cold.
World Literature Today
This book was featured in the Nota Benes section of the May/Aug 2016 issue of World Literature Today Magazine.
Lyrical, beautiful, structurally innovative and so human. ❤️
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Susana Moreira Marques (Porto, 1976) escreve para jornais e revistas desde 2004 e actualmente colabora com o Público e com o Jornal de Negócios. Entre 2005 e 2010 viveu em Londres, onde foi correspondente do Público e trabalhou na BBC World Service. O seu trabalho recebeu diversos prémios de jornalismo, de entre os quais se destacam, em 2012, o Prémio AMI — Jornalismo Contra a Indiferença e o Pré ...more

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