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The Language of Dying

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,255 ratings  ·  340 reviews
In this emotionally gripping, genre-defying novella from Sarah Pinborough, a woman sits at her father's bedside, watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters--she is the middle child of five--have all turned up over the past week to pay their last respects. Each is traumatized in his or her own way, and the bonds that unite them to each ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Jo Fletcher Books (first published 2009)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,255 ratings  ·  340 reviews


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Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister
*5 stars*

For its beautiful prose, unflinching honesty, and ability to carry us straight to the unnerving perimeters of death to witness the unraveling—I believe this book deserves no less than 5 stars.

The Language of Dying is a quick read, but there is so much conveyed in so few words, and not a speck of it is written in vain. It candidly explores the depths of mortality, narrowing in on a sick man’s final days of life as his dignity deteriorates even more quickly than his body.

This glimpse is
...more
Pouting Always
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A women reflects on her life as she waits for her father to die. He is in the last stages of lung cancer after a life of chain smoking and her older sister has come to help her in the last few days. She is the middle child, sandwiched between two older children and two younger, and has always felt closest to their father. His impending death though only highlights the dysfunction of the siblings relationship and forces her to reflect on their own struggles and self destruction.

Spoilers, maybe?
...more
Chelsea Humphrey
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This will be a teeny tiny review for a teeny tiny book, but just know it deserves no less than 5 stars in my book. This would be a fantastic gateway book for those looking to enter the magical realism realm without going hardcore right away. Books with cancer patients always get me, since my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer back in 2008. Hallelujah she has been in full remission since then (!!!), but it still always makes me weepy reading about other's stories, real or not. This part ...more
karen
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
this is kind of like a grownup version of A Monster Calls. it’s not a perfect readalike, but it features the same kind of magical realism spin on the experience of death and the grieving process, complete with a supernatural manifestation of that process - all rage and pain and hoof-stomping power.

however, the magic in this is not central to the story - it is an occasional grace note in an otherwise unflinchingly realistic depiction of a woman’s experience caring for her beloved father as cance
...more
Larry H
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"It's been a long few months and, even though time has folded from the first diagnosis to now, my body and soul know that I have lived through every painful second of it. They sing it to me through aching limbs and a torn heart."

A woman's father is in the last few days of his life, as he is dying from cancer. She has cared for him through his illness, watching his body and his mind deteriorate. She wants his suffering to end, but fears what the end of that suffering will mean for her life.

Her si
...more
Esil
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
5 stars for emotional potency. I expect this book will resonate tremendously with anyone who has sat throughout the last days with a dying parent, partner or close friend. It certainly brought me right back to my father's side, while he was in palliative care a few years ago as he was dying of pancreatic cancer. The inner thoughts, the quiet communication, the tumultuous emotions, the odd roads your memory takes you down, the shared anger, frustration, love and even humour with other relatives a ...more
Elyse Walters
I hated this book - and now I can't sleep. Why the hell did I read it????? That's my biggest question ---why the hell did I read THIS book? I didn't 'need' it.....nor did I take away anything new that I didn't already know.
I wasn't uplifted - it wasn't enjoyable - Yet... I read the whole damn thing!

I did appreciate and respect Sarah Pinborough's opening .......
"There is a language to dying. It creeps like a shadow alongside the passing years and the taste of it hides in the corners of our mou
...more
Debbie
5 BIG STARS!

This one totally knocked my socks off. What a secret gem and one of my favorites this year! This is the story of a daughter tending to her dying father, told in first person. The voice pulled me right in to the secret chamber of wise thoughts and heavy emotions, and it never let me out. There is a subtleness to the emotion, a quietness, and it made its way into my soul. I wanted to bottle up the language and set it on my shelf as a tonic when I’m feeling down.

Wow, this book is making
...more
Debbie "DJ"
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I have no words to describe how deeply touching this book is. We all come face to face with the death of a loved one at some point in our lives. I just love a book with amazing writing, and Sarah Pinborough is simply a master with words. She describes what it is like for the middle daughter, the one who has lived with her father, the tightness of their bond, what it is like now that he is slipping away. How siblings show up to help, some surprise while others disappoint. And will this bring them ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novella about a man and his daughter, the daughter who has watched over him as lay dying. The man who raised his family of five after his wife and their mother left him. This daughter is the middle one, and as she watches and speaks to him we learn her backstory, the events in her life that made her return to this house. Although the three brothers and her older sister come home to say goodbye they all leave again and it is only her, the father and whatever is waiting for her.

A wonderfully wri
...more
Linda
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to NetGalley and to Sarah Pinborough for the opportunity.

Death is the Great Equalizer.

Death fails to note if it has arrived far before one's first breath was ever taken. It never keeps track of the breaths unnoticed until the last one comes too soon.

A house is in near darkness and there sits The One. The One is The Watcher who keeps vigilance with her back poised against Good Intenti
...more
Melissa
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, emotional, 2016
Don’t let the length fool you, this quick snapshot of a story packs one heck of an emotional punch. With a somber and reflective tone, the author explores the painful reality of death and those we leave behind.

This meaningful story centers around five siblings returning home to face the haunting memories of their childhood and one another; in the midst of their father’s death. He’s slowly withering away and it’s incredibly sad and humbling to watch. Naturally, it made me contemplate how precious
...more
Sue
Very powerful view of a family coping, or not, with the actuality of the father's impending death, told through the middle daughter's perspective. The emotions are raw and the physical details are real. The family dynamics complex but also well explained. The ending...Well I was holding my breath.

This is not an easy book to read; how could it be. But it is, in its own way, somehow satisfying emotionally. Definitely recommended.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley i
...more
Karen
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A woman is taking care of her dying father. When his death is imminent, she calls in her four siblings who all arrive to pay their last respects. There is conflict and resentment as each copes with their dad’s impending death. Clearly, they use different coping mechanisms that lead to misunderstandings and anger. This difficult time will change relationships but will it divide or bring them closer? I was hopeful for the latter. I lost my own father in May to a long-lasting horrible illness and o ...more
Cheri
“Time is surreal. I can hear that laugh as if it were yesterday and in the same instant I can see the years ahead in which I will never hear it again. I squeeze my eyes shut let the drifting take over.”

Death, its impact on the lives of the siblings, how it changes the way each person views the words and actions of their siblings. It impacts and changes relationships of the caregiver and the dying, as well as the relationships of the caregiver and the remaining family. Death’s imminence changes e
...more
PattyMacDotComma
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: families, carers
4★
A wonderful but difficult read for anyone who's suffered through a similar situation.

“ 'Your father is moving into the next stage. His breathing will slow. The pauses between each breath will get longer and longer. It’s called Cheyne-Stoking. He’s not there yet, but I think in the next day or so.’

She doesn’t need to point out the rest. The rest I understand.
‘Chain-smoking leads to Cheyne-Stoking.’ The little rhyme forms a rhythm in my empty thinking space. The rhythm is like hooves on tarma
...more
Taryn
An emotionally raw novella about caring for a dying parent, dysfunctional family relationships, and depression.

There is a language to dying. It creeps like a shadow alongside the passing years and the taste of it hides in the corners of our mouths. It finds us whether we are sick or healthy. It is a secret hushed thing that lives in the whisper of the nurses’ skirts as they rustle up and down our stairs. They’ve taught me to face the language one syllable at a time, slowly creating an unwilling
...more
Betsy Robinson
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
. . . I stroke your hair and kiss your dry, rotten mouth. “I can see you in there, Dad,” I whisper. “Don’t worry. I can always see you.” (17)
Maybe this statement expresses the essence of the experience of being a solo witness to the slow, agonizing death of somebody you love. It’s something you know in your heart and cannot share with anybody but the person who is dying. Not siblings. Not doctors and other caretakers. When you have been the primary friend (and that can be in many different roles
...more
Liz
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a very moving novella concerning a daughter caring for her dying father. The book is written almost as a letter, addressed to the father. I love the title. The language of dying speaks to the fear of people to hear or learn about dying. “They don't like the little bit of language they already know; they don't want to add to it”.

I read this while my 91 year old father was recovering from a broken hip. It's been a long, slow, painful recovery. Given the almost daily interaction, I've seen
...more
Sandra
"There is a language to dying. It creeps like a shadow alongside the passing years and the taste of it hides in the corners of our mouths. It finds us whether we are sick or healthy."

What a powerful and heartbreaking book this is!
Even as I'm writing this review, I feel this lump in my throat coming up again and I'm having trouble keeping it down.

This novella shows us a woman taking care of her father in the final stage of his battle against cancer. During this period of coping with his imminen
...more
JanB
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This novella is written as a letter of sorts to a dying father by his unnamed nearly 40 year old daughter. She's the sole caretaker of her dying father, who is in his last days. Beautifully written with raw emotions that felt real, so real that I suspect the author has intimate knowledge of what it's like.

It wasn't that long ago that I sat by my father's bedside as he lay dying. Death isn't always "with dignity", people don't always "go quietly in the night", and not every family bands together
...more
Kristina

"There is a language to dying. It creeps like a shadow alongside the passing years and the taste of it hides in the corners of our mouths. It finds us whether we are sick or healthy. It is a secret hushed thing that lives in the whisper of the nurses’ skirts as they rustle up and down our stairs. They’ve taught me to face the language one syllable at a time, slowly creating an unwilling meaning."

So begins The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough, a novella narrated by the main character, a woma
...more
Dean
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished it, a book like a fast train at coalition course to your guts!!!!!
I mean, in this book are so much inside, it's almost unbelievable and written really beautiful, dense, atmospheric, and full of magic ( like a gothic novel ).....
The story of a young woman damaged trough diverse cruel hammerings in her life!!!!
Betrayal from people which she never expected it, helpless in the face of a marriage turning out to be hell....
gradually the cracks in her soul shows up, as a result of th
...more
Sheila
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars--I really liked it. Wow, what a strange, sad, and fantastic novella this is. It wasn't what I expected, and I really enjoyed it.

This book is about--as the title says--dying, but it's also about family and depression and loss. The writing and characterization are both excellent. However, what I really loved was the touch of magical realism (or was it?). For me, that put this book beyond just "good."

I'm not going to say much, to avoid spoilers, but this won't be my last Pinsborough book.

I
...more
Jamie
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though this was only 88 pages long, it had such an emotional impact on me. From page one, I knew this story would revolve around a man dying of cancer.

This story was all too real for me. It is about how a dysfunctional family tried to come together when someone they love was ill. Even as I write this, I still have tears in my eyes. Way too many memories surfaced while reading this. I remember watching, and being by my mother’s side while she had suffered from melanoma cancer. I understood,
...more
Renee Godding
“There is a language to dying. It creeps like a shadow alongside the passing years and the taste of it hides in the corners of our mouths. It finds us whether we are sick or healthy. It is a secret hushed thing that lives in the whisper of the nurses’ skirts as they rustle up and down our stairs. They’ve taught me to face the language one syllable at a time, slowing creating an unwilling meaning."

The Language of Dying is one of those novels I feel a little bad about not liking more. It’s a novel
...more
Linda Strong
Watching someone die day after day, especially of someone you love, is emotionally heart-breaking. More so, if you've no one to share your memories, the stories, the day to day caring of a loved one without help.

This woman is watching her father die. She is the middle child ,,, she has 2 older siblings and 2 younger. They have all gathered to be with her and to pay last respects this week. They are not a close knit family. They are all playing the game of being family, but nothing really rings t
...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough was a book that seemed to be fantastic and that a lot of my friends on Goodreads ( and other readers there) love. However, now and then am I the odd one out because this book didn't do a thing for me. I kept on expecting for the moment to show up when I would get enthralled and get sucked into the story, but it never happened.

Instead, it just dragged on, and this is not a thick book, only 144 pages long, but it felt like it took forever to get to the end
...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/08/01/...

Sarah Pinborough is the author of a couple of my favorite historical horror novels, Mayhem and Murder in the Dr. Thomas Bond duology about the Jack the Ripper, so when I was offered a chance to review The Language of Dying, I didn’t hesitate. This novella couldn’t have been more different than her other work though, and yet I loved it no less. A beautiful soul-rending song straight from the heart, this tiny little book pac
...more
Karen
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE LANGUAGE OF DYING BY SARAH PINBOROUGH

To anybody that has sat at a loved one's bedside and watch them slip from cognition to comatose, because they are dying of cancer this book viscerally twists you inside and out. The narrator remains nameless but is at the family home (she already bought it from her father and distributed the money to her siblings) with her dying father. This authenticates the grief, guilt, just wanting one more moment with your loved one and the myriad scale of emotions t
...more
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2,992 followers
Sarah Pinborough is the NYT bestselling and Sunday Times #1 Bestselling author of 'Behind Her Eyes' which has sold in over 25 territories thus far and is in development for television with Left Bank productions. She has also written books across a variety of genres including the YA thriller 13 Minutes (in development with Netflix). Her next novel 'Cross Her Heart' comes out from HarperFiction in t ...more
“Sometimes there are just too many words filling up space and not enough emptiness left for thinking. I keep a little emptiness inside for when I need it.” 14 likes
“I guess sometimes you have to hide from the world to see it properly.” 12 likes
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