Monday, 4 September 2017
'It seems to me there are no others: only fragile, weathering and astonishing life.'
This update comes with news of a milestone: Others is now one-third funded. More than two hundred people have signed up to support this project; you can read their names here. There's still a way to go, and I need your help. More on that below.
Today, I've news of an exciting addition to the line-up of contributors: the very brilliant Sam Guglani. As you'll know by now, Others is about celebrating how writers and literature can project us into other points of view. Nothing does more to highlight people's otherness to each other than the medical encounter, both in how it reinforces the boundaries between people and necessarily breaks them down.
Sam is the ideal writer to bring these complexities to life. A consultant oncologist in Cheltenham, Sam's column, 'The Notes', is published by the Lancet. He is Director of Medicine Unboxed, a project he founded in 2009 to engage health professionals and the public in conversation around medicine, illuminated by the arts.
Here's what Sam has to say about his involvement with the project.
I am writing for Others because you are the patient. You: with the stethoscope around your neck, and you: lifting the cocktail glass. Because the line that separates the well from the sick, the living from the dying, and the comfortable from the suffering is paper-thin and porous. It seems to me there are no others: only fragile, weathering and astonishing life. How – steeped as we are in knowledge and reason – do we struggle to see this, and how might words show us the truth of it?
Sam's debut novel, Histories, is full of the ordinary magic of literature in putting us into other pairs of shoes. In sharp, poetic prose, Sam takes us into the minds and hearts of the hospital porter, the consultant, the chaplain, the hospital domestic, and of course the patients who come before them. Histories will be published by riverrun in November, and it is already looking like being one of the debuts of the year. The novel comes with praise from John Burnside, Sarah Moss, Michel Faber and Gabriel Weston; you can read some of the pre-publication blurbs here.
Now the difficult bit. We won't be hearing from Sam unless we can get this project over the line. Please help to spread the word by persuading friends and family and using the hashtag #OthersBook on social media. This is about so much more than pre-ordering an anthology or donating to charity. It's about helping to bring something to life that wasn't there before. I hope you feel part of it, and will help to get others excited about the book. If you have access to any mailing lists that might help us to find new supporters, please let me know. If you have any ideas at all about the campaign, please get in touch. I'm charles dot fernyhough at gmail dot com.
One last bit of news: contributors Will Storr and Gillian Allnutt will be appearing with me to talk about the book at the Durham Book Festival next month. If you are in the north-east, please come along and support Others. I'll be giving out a pledge discount code on the day, in case you can bring along anyone who has not yet joined in.
Thanks for supporting this timely and important project. Let's make it happen.