‘The Language of Dying’ – Sarah Pinborough

The Language of Dying


From the opening pages it is clear that we are watching the most intimate moments in someone’s life in these pages.

Our unnamed narrator is at the bedside of her dying father. This novel is basically her observations of the last days of her father’s life, and her recollections of the past when he was a more vibrant figure.

The narrator is the middle of five children, and we learn that she has moved in with her father after both their respective marriages have failed. In these last days we see the four siblings come to the house, and learn a little more of their past. In the dark moments of watching her father the narrator lays bare the failings in their relationships.

The style of writing is quite unemotional. There’s a sense of detachment to the writing as we’re told of the events that signal the end of a life, and the harrowing events that have affected this family over time.

This is a short novella, but it was compelling reading. I was both shocked and confused by the ending, for reasons that will be obvious when you read.
While it would be nice to not have to confront this experience, it was a valuable read.