in conversation with GISH JEN
This event includes a book signing
September 27, 2017
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes Granta magazine editor SIGRID RAUSING—author of History, Memory, and Identity in Post-Soviet Estonia and Everything is Wonderful—and bestselling author GISH JEN for a discussion of Mayhem, Rausing's memoir of the impact of addiction on her family.
In the summer of 2012 a woman named Eva was found dead in the London townhouse she shared with her husband, Hans K. Rausing. The couple had struggled with drug addiction for years, often under the glare of tabloid headlines. Now, writing with singular clarity and restraint, Hans’ sister, the editor and publisher Sigrid Rausing, tries to make sense of what happened.
In Mayhem, she asks the difficult questions those close to the world of addiction must face. "Who can help the addict, consumed by a shaming hunger, a need beyond control? There is no medicine: the drugs are the medicine. And who can help their families, so implicated in the self-destruction of the addict? Who can help when the very notion of ‘help’ becomes synonymous with an exercise of power; a familial police state; an end to freedom, in the addict’s mind?"
An eloquent and timely attempt to understand the conundrum of addiction—and a memoir as devastating as it is riveting.
"A profoundly articulate and harrowing memoir of a family grappling with addiction. With love and tenderness, respect and reserve, Sigrid Rausing explores the evolution of her brother and sister-in-law’s addiction and its effect on her entire family. Her deftly layered observations about how one can be both knowing and not knowing capture a parent’s innate sense of a child’s being in danger; one sibling’s desperate attempts to save another; and a deeply private family who find themselves suddenly exposed. Ultimately, what Rausing finds is a way to tell her own story, including among objects from the past that remind her of what once was, or might have been. I was impressed and moved." —A. M. Homes, author of the New York Times–bestselling memoir The Mistress's Daughter
"In this mesmerizing account of her brother’s descent into addiction and her sister-in-law’s untimely death, Sigrid Rausing explores sweeping questions about what it means to choose or refuse a moral life; what tragedy looks like when it is woven into privilege; and how we control or surrender to our perceived destinies. Written in elegiac, lyrical prose, Mayhem is deeply passionate in its impossible attempt to adduce a redeeming vitality from an agonizing chaos. This is a brave, elegant, inspired book." —Andrew Solomon, National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon
“A short, intense, moving memoir. . . a poignant and at times harrowing account that testifies to the resilience of the human spirit.” —Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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