'One of the most inventive, original and disturbing writers of her generation' Daily Telegraph
In August 2014, Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given 'two or three years' to live. Being a writer, she decided to write about her experience - and to tell a story she had not yet told: that of being taken in, aged fifteen, by the author Doris Lessing, and the subsequent fifty years of their complex relationship. Splicing childhood memories with present-day realities, Diski paints an unflinching portrait of two extraordinary writers - Lessing and herself.
Jenny Diski died a week after the publication of In Gratitude. A cerebral, witty, dazzlingly candid memoir, it is her final masterpiece.
Jenny's pain and fury are still hot in this fascinating but uncomfortable read ... Clear-sighted, defiant and written with Diski's customary furious elegance, it is a remarkable last word from a writer who survived to live and love, almost despite herself --Jane Shilling, Daily Mail
Nothing about Jenny Diski is conventional. Diski does not do linear, or normal, or boring ... In Gratitude amounts to the inner monologue of a highly intelligent, furiously funny, traumatised woman, "trembling at the prospect of extinction" ... She cannot be subsumed into the wider narrative or by Lessing. In Gratitude assures Diski the last word H--elen Davies, Sunday Times
One of the most inventive, original and disturbing writers of her generation --Daily Telegraph
Remarkable ... Honest and spirited ... As the scenes of her traumatic and chaotic childhood pass she reminds us, sentence by sentence, not only that she emerged to become every bit the writer she always dreamed of being, but also that, despite everything, along the way she learned a great deal about love --Tim Adams, Observer
A different kind of cancer memoir, and an almost entirely platitude-free one ... plain-spoken, harrowing and invariably moving ... The details are incisive, and she stacks them carefully ... There's a raw, almost feral quality to Ms. Diski's writing about cowering in Lessing's long shadow. It's a trait she brought to so much of her writing. It's just like her to leave us a title, In Gratitude, that slowly sheds its softness and sends up a mischievous flare --Dwight Garner, New York Times
As a study of influence and the monstrous egos of writers, In Gratitude is up there with Thomas de Quincey's account of Wordsworth and Paul Theroux's tale of befriending V S Naipaul ... But Diski has always been a badass ... The tone of In Gratitude is, accordingly, cocky and belligerent ... It is the combination of entitlement and indifference to opinion that gives Diski's voice its serrated edge and makes her such a savagely good recorder of herself. Read me if you like, she implies in In Gratitude, but you don't have to like what you read Frances Wilson, Daily Telegraph
Diski's line is simple: 'I want to die easily.' This deeply human wish bears no resemblance to the rich messiness of Diski's life, nor the challenging delight of her writing --Kate Wormersley, Spectator
My favourite reading this year -- Blake Morrison
She deserves our unfeigned admiration, not for her bravery or her struggle, or any irrelevant tosh like that, but for writing so well --Guardian
A marvel of steady and dispassionate self-revelation ... Bracingly devoid of sententiousness, sentimentality or any kind of spiritual urge or twitch --New York Times
A suberb, original and unsentimental writer --Guardian
Summer Reading In Gratitude reminds us what pleasure, what company and nourishment there is in just thinking, especially if you do it well, as she does here -- Anne Enright Irish Times
Jenny Diski was born in 1947 in London, where she lived most of her life. She was the author of ten novels, four books of travel and memoir, including Stranger on a Train and Skating to Antarctica, two volumes of essays and a collection of short stories. Her journalism appeared in publications including the Mail on Sunday, the Observer and the London Review of Books, to which she contributed more than two hundred articles over twenty-five years. jennydiski.co.uk @diski