Death is our most fascinating taboo subject. ABC’s Michaela Kalowski leads a thought-provoking discussion about euthanasia with four authors who have written about death. Steven Amsterdam’s The Easy Way Out looks at what it’s like for the people tapped to do the deed. After is Nikki Gemmell’s searing account of her mother’s decision to end her own life. In his memoir Admissions, neurosurgeon Henry Marsh tries to understand what matters in the end. In Time to Die, Rodney Syme tackles questions around assisted dying.
Nikki Gemmell (Australian)
Nikki Gemmell is the bestselling author of thirteen novels and four works of non-fiction. She also pens a weekly column for The Australian newspaper. Her best-known work is the 2003 novel The Bride Stripped Bare, an explicit exploration of female sexuality. Gemmell also writes novels for children, including the Kensington Reptilarium series and the Coco Banjo series. Her most recent book, After, explores the devastating aftermath of her elderly mother's decision to end her own life.
Henry Marsh (International)
Henry Marsh is a writer and one of Britain’s foremost neurosurgeons. He is the author of Admissions and Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery, which offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity. It was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and won the PEN Ackerley Prize, the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature and was shortlisted for awards including the Costa Biography Award and Guardian First Book Award.
Marsh became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1984 and was then appointed Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley's/St George's Hospital in London, where he worked for thirty years. Since retiring from full-time work, he has continued to operate and lecture in Nepal, Albania and Ukraine. He has been the subject of two award-winning documentary films, Your Life in Their Hands and The English Surgeon. He was made a CBE in 2010.
Rodney Syme (Australian)
Rodney Syme is an experienced medical practitioner, and a well-known advocate for legalised assisted dying. For the last 25 years he has been counselled over 1700 people about end of life matters, and provided more than 100 with medication to palliate their psychological suffering by providing control over the end of their life. A Good Death described his journey with terminally ill people. Time to Die deepens the argument, focussing on people with advanced incurable illness, and a critique of palliative care.
Steven Amsterdam (Australian)
Steven Amsterdam is the author of Things We Didn't See Coming (which won The Age Book of the Year) as well as What the Family Needed. His most recent book is The Easy Way Out. His short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The Lifted Brow, Meanjin, and Salon. He is also a palliative care nurse.
Michaela Kalowski (Australian)
Michaela Kalowski is an interviewer and facilitator. She has conducted radio interviews for the ABC on RN's The Music Show and Big Ideas and has presented programs on ABC Local Radio and RN. She's interviewed writers and thinkers from the worlds of arts, science and politics. Highlight interviews include Amos Oz, Tom Keneally, Daniel Mendelsohn, Anthony Horowitz, Charlotte Wood and Laura Marling.