This Living and Immortal Thing | Granta

  • Published: 02/02/2017
  • ISBN: 9781783781683
  • 129x20mm
  • 304 pages

This Living and Immortal Thing

Austin Duffy

This Living and Immortal Thing inhabits a world of medicine, research, cancer and death. Its disillusioned and often darkly funny narrator is an Irish oncologist, who is searching for a scientific breakthrough in the lab of a New York hospital while struggling with his failing marriage and his growing alienation within the city’s urban spaces. Tending to the health of his laboratory mice, he finds comfort in work that is measurable, results that are quantifiable.

But life is every bit as persistent as the illness he studies. As he starts a new treatment on his mice, he meets a beautiful but elusive Russian translator at the hospital, his estranged wife gets in touch and his supervisor pressures him to push ahead professionally. And always there is the pull of family, of the place he considers home.

Shot through with Duffy’s haunting, beautiful descriptions of the science underlying cancer, which starkly illustrate the paradox of an illness with a persistent and deadly life force at its heart, This Living and Immortal Thing shows how the cruelty of the disease is a price we pay for the joy and complexity of being in the world.

Through a beauty of description that extends to cancer itself [...] the novel becomes an attempt to absorb, assimilate, even accept, our great natural enemy. A moving, rewarding and thoughtful book

Peter Beech, Guardian

[Duffy's] knowledge, and the way he blends science so seamlessly into his story, making it not just palatable but intriguing to the lay person, makes this an important book to treasure... There are laugh-out-loud moments as we follow the unnamed narrator through his days, gaining extraordinary glimpses into the characters of all those he encounters [and] the love story at the book's core, is heart-breakingly told

Sue Leonard, Irish Examiner

One of the most interesting books I have read in years

Erik Martiny, London Magazine

The Author

Austin Duffy‘s debut novel This Living and Immortal Thing was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, was Runner-Up for the McKitterick Prize and was highly commended for the BMA Medical Books Awards. He grew up in Ireland, studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin and is a practising medical oncologist. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

Ten Days

Austin Duffy

When Wolf’s recently-estranged wife Miriam dies from cancer, his entire world is turned upside down. Wolf and his daughter, Ruth, travel to New York from London to scatter Miriam’s ashes in the Hudson River. During the ten High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur they connect up with Miriam’s conservative Jewish family, who are adamantly against Miriam’s choice of burial. Battling the antagonism of Miriam’s Orthodox family, Wolf is also coming to terms with his own hopes to put right wrongs before it’s too late.

A tenderly written story of time, grief and memory, Ten Days delves deep into the complicated love between a father and daughter and the bonds of marriage over older family ties.