The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying


by Nina Riggs
AUG 2017

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Extent: 288pp
Format: paperback
ISBN: 9781911231134
Rights: UK & Comm, excl. Can: Text Publishing

‘Moving and often very funny…You can read a multitude of books about how to die, but Riggs, a dying woman, will show you how to live.’ New York Times Book Review

In 2015 poet and writer Nina Riggs was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it metastasised later that year. She was thirty-eight years old, married to the love of her life and the mother of two small boys; her mother had died only a few months earlier from multiple myeloma.

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying is Nina’s intimate, unflinching account of ‘living with death in the room’. She tells her story in a series of absurd, poignant and often hilarious vignettes drawn froma life that has ‘no real future or arc left to it, yet still goes on as if it does’.

This unforgettable memoir leads the reader into the innermost chambers of the writer’s life: into the mind and heart, the work and home and family, of a young woman alternately seeking to make peace with and raging against the reality of her approaching death.


“Stunning…heartrending…this year’s When Breath Becomes Air.” Nora Krug, The Washington Post

‘Her observations about cancer are frank and unsentimental [but] they are also tart and hilarious…Like the bestselling When Breath Becomes Air, the work she left behind is a beautiful testament to the quiet magic of everyday life and making the most of the time we are given, whether it’s spent taking last-minute trips to Paris, wallpapering the mudroom, or reveling in a newly purchased couch.’ New York Post

‘The antithesis of grim: an irreverent and poignant Baedeker through the country of illness.’ Wall Street Journal

‘A luminous, heartbreaking symphony of wit, wisdom, pain, parenting and perseverance against insurmountable odds.’ STARRED Review, Kirkus Reviews

‘Riggs reminds us that we are all in this world until we leave it; the gallows humor surrounding her mother’s funeral will make readers howl guiltily but appreciatively. Whether confronting disease or not, everyone should read this beautifully crafted book as it imbues life and loved ones with a particularly transcendent glow.’ STARRED Review, Library Journal

A thoughtful and heartbreaking exploration of what makes life meaningful in a person’s remaining days…Buried within this agonizing tale are moments of levity—I laughed out loud many, many times—and flashes of poetry…A book every doctor and patient should read.’ USA Today

‘While the looming presence of impending death is ubiquitous throughout the book, it's also a work teeming with limitless love, humour and perseverance.
Even when dealing with the most physically and mentally agonising moments through her battle with cancer, Nina’s voice remains resolute, self-aware and always prioritising those nearest and dearest over her own fears and worries.
It’s a truly inspiring and—in the end—uplifting memoir; the kind of work that makes you want to take a step back and get a better look at your life to remind yourself what really matters.’ Readers Digest

Nina Riggs talks about The Bright Hour