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302 pages, Hardcover
First published January 28, 2021
The Gordon Burn Prize recognises literature that is forward-thinking and fearless in its ambition and execution, often playing with style, pushing boundaries, crossing genres or challenging readers’ expectations.
Like Gordon’s own work, the prize is open to a diverse range of themes and perspectives drawn from the breadth of today’s cultural and social concerns. It welcomes books by writers emerging from backgrounds underrepresented in the mainstream literary culture.
When hate is rising then love can only rise higher.
The greatest trick man played was making you believe I was a man. They erased me and made you all believe that Death was male in spirit – the Grim Reaper in a black hood with a scythe. Remarkable that nobody questioned it really, don’t you think? For surely only she who bears it, she who gave you life, can be she who has the power to take it. The one is she. And only she who is invisible can do the work of Death. And there is no human more invisible, more readily talked over, ignored, betrayed and easy to walk past than a woman; than a poor old black woman, a homeless black beggar-woman with knotty natty hair, broken back, walking ever so slow, slow, slow, pushing a shopping trolley full of plastic bottles.
Mrs Death is everywhere. She is hiding in plain sight. She is the working woman. She works in the shops and in the markets and laundrettes and factories. Mrs Death is the woman we hardly see, the woman we do not care to see. She is the person we ignore, she is the pause in the silence, she is the invisible woman. She is the refugee at the border. She is the cleaner. She is the cab driver. She is the backing singer we never bother to learn the name of ….. She is the homeless person begging for change outside the train station. Mrs Death is the spirit of the ignored and the saint of the betrayed.
“write the name that came to mind as you read this story …. Please add your loved one's name on one of these blank pages, maybe add a date, a memory or a prayer. In this one act of remembrance we will be united. From now on every single person who reads this book will know their copy contains their own dead. As time passes, if this book is borrowed or passed along, the names will live on …… One day they may read your own name. One day they may read mine. In this we are connected. We share these names of our loved ones in the whisper of the last page turning, over the years to come.”
you’re only human
you’re only womankind
you’re only human being
you’re only mankind, be kind
the first sunrise, the first sunset
you’re only human, you’re only woman
you’re only man, human, be kind
human being kind human being
you’re only human, you’re only woman
you’re only human, you’re only man
you’re only human, human being
Mrs Death Misses Death: This is about you and me and us. This is her story, the story, the story of the life and the time of the death of us. This is the life of life and the time of time. For what a time it is and what a time it was and what a time it will be. The Dance of Time and Life and Death, the hours and the breath, the sky and space. The last big sleep. All your fears are here, all your fears are inside here.
All your fears are here, inside here.
All your fears are here, in here, in here, in here…
All your fears are here
A family of monkeys feel loss when they lose a member of their group. The killing of Harambe! Why did they kill Harambe? Why don’t we respect and save the animals, Mrs Death? What will we do when the last elephants are extinct, Mrs Death? Who will save the turtles and the coral reefs and the rainforests?
And let’s hope that if you do kill yourself, you are well over forty years old, because to kill yourself before age forty is like murdering a stranger.
really nearly took that other plane on 9/11
had a coconut fall on your head
saw your village being bombed
slipped taking a selfie by the Grand Canyon
had a fight with an alligator
got stranded in a fierce and fast-moving bushfire
All the warmth and all the joy is boiled in a soup of memory, we stir the good stuff from the bottom of the pot and hold the ladle up, drink, we say, look at all the good chunks of goodness, take in your share of good times, good music, good books, good food, good laughter, good people, be grateful for the good stuff, life and death, we say, drink.
“You have a mourning that sits inside you. It's like having a stone in your centre; time smooths the edges like a pebble in a river, but it's always there — a stone is a stone. If you've known loss, you'll know this stone, you will carry a stone of your own — this pain and weight — and you'll know what I mean. It is a tattoo under the inside of you that cannot fade or be removed. There is no unknowing the memory that a certain date and time triggers: the smell of the season, the time, the weather. We replay it, the jolt, the shock, the finality of death.”