Emma Donoghue was born in Ireland in 1969 and lived in England before moving to Canada. Emma writes fiction (including the bestselling Slammerkin), drama for stage and radio, and literary history; Room is her seventh novel. Some of the places she found her inspiration : Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), ), feralchildren.com, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh (1856), John Fowles’s The Collector (1963), Anne Frank’s Diary (1947), Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), Terminator 2 : Judgment Day (1991), The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs (1966), but above all in conversation with my five-year-old son.
Three and a Half Deaths by Emma Donoghue features an accident, a suicide, an act of criminal negligence . . . and a near-death experience. These stories – set in France, the USA and Canada – bring together calamities from two centuries. The third story from the collection, ‘Sissy’, explores culpability – the survivor’s guilt of the sister of a small child who died in the 1840s in London, Ontario – because the story of any death must include its lingering effects on the living. Although Emma often writes about the famous, she has a particular interest in the obscure: people whose trace on the historical record is faint, taking the form of a footnote, or a handful of mutely eloquent bones.