The author's mother, Susan Sontag, died of a particularly acute form of leukemia in 2004. \"This,\" he writes, \"is a book of questions about what we know and, perhaps more importantly, what we can take in when confronted by the death of a loved one.\"
David Rieff is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. He is the author of seven previous books, including At the Point of a Gun, the acclaimed A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis, which was named one of the 10 best nonfiction books of the year by the Los Angeles Times Book Review and a finalist for the Helen Bernstein Award, and Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West. He has written regularly for many other magazines, including the New Yorker and The New Republic. He has been a visiting professor at Bard College and a teaching fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in New York City.