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The Books Briefing: How Literature Helps Us Grieve

Words about hope in grief
“A close friend of the publisher at New Directions unexpectedly lost her husband of 25 years. The pain and loss she felt was totally devastating, as if an enormous wave had crashed over her and she could find no way to surface. Her despair seemed complete and endless. Seeking refuge in words, she suggested to our publisher that … we should bring out an edition of poems on grief and mourning.”

? Time of Grief: Mourning Poems, edited by Jeffrey Yang

The purgatory that comes after losing a child
“In the last moment of the Inferno, Dante and Virgil haven’t actually escaped the underworld yet. They are only being afforded a glimpse of what ultimate beauty might feel and look like. That image somehow exactly captures where our lives were, and where, in some ways, our lives still are and may always remain.”

?Once More We Saw Stars, by Jayson Greene
? The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri

(Tim Macpherson / Getty / Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic)

Grief in a near-future world
“Mary South imagines a near future in which the human pursuit of control through technology greatly intensifies. Written with dark humor and a striking lack of sentimentality, these stories are vehicles for characters who each use tech to try to retrieve that which is irrevocably lost: the freedom of the pre-violated body, the child taken from the world prematurely, the normalcy that vanishes after the death of a loved one.”

?You Will Never Be Forgotten, by Mary South

(Shannon Stapleton / Reuters)

A striking debut novel about filial grief
The author’s “unusual exploration of filial grief occasionally feels like

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