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In Memoriam :: Nuala O’Faolain

In catching up on my RSS feeds, I just now learned of the passing of Nuala O’Faolain. I am saddened to hear of this loss to us all, most especially those closest to her. I only learned of her work a few years ago while listening to the Diane Rehm show on NPR. I was absolutely fascinated with O’Faolain’s discussion of her memoir, Almost There: The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman. As can happen with Rehm’s interviews, their discussion went off onto many other topics, including O’Faolain’s views on relationships and her lack of belief in any kind of afterlife. Her candid assuredness and openess in discussing these topic with Rehm led me to go out and gather as much of her writing as I could find. My respect of her grew through these as well as her staunch journalism work; and of her decision to travel during her last months of life, I find it in keeping with the fortitude of her character I will forever admire.

Nuala O’Faolain, 68; Irish journalist, wrote memoir ‘Are You Somebody?’
By Mary Rourke, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 19, 2008

Nuala O’Faolain, the Irish journalist and author whose 1996 memoir, “Are You Somebody?,” captured international attention for its soul-searching candor, died May 9 in a Dublin hospice of complications from lung cancer, according to news reports from Ireland. She was 68.

O’Faolain, a resident of Barrtra in County Clare, Ireland, with homes in Dublin and New York City, recently announced that she had inoperable lung cancer and she had turned down the option of chemotherapy, choosing instead to travel in Europe until she had to be hospitalized.

She wrote about everyday events in a way that touched on basic human realities. For one column she visited the intensive care unit of a maternity ward where the fragile newborns didn’t cry. They couldn’t, she wrote, because they were sedated.

She often covered political and social issues from her outspoken, feminist perspective. In general, however, she was known to be unpredictable in her views, with a gentle sense of humor.

O’Faolain’s bestselling memoir began as an idea for a book-length collection of her columns. She started writing an introduction that grew into several hundred pages of intensely personal autobiography. The memoir’s subtitle, “The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman,” suggests the change in direction.

“I had to answer the question nobody had asked: Where do my opinions come from?” O’Faolain said of her purpose for writing a memoir, in a 2001 New York Times interview. “The answer was simple. Ideology had nothing to do with it. My opinions come from my life.”

[Read the rest on LA Times.]

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