Books·Canadian

Natural Killer

Natural Killer: A Memoir is a book by Harriet Alida Lye.

Harriet Alida Lye

In this harrowing and intimate memoir, Harriet Alida Lye explores how, at just fifteen years old, she was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called Natural Killer, named "the rarest and worst malignancy." The average life span of patients with this diagnosis is 58 days. There are no known survivors. There were no known survivors.

Fifteen years after Harriet's diagnosis, she became pregnant, despite having been told that her chemotherapy treatment would likely make natural conception impossible. To be a mother is to make a death, as death is bound up in life. She knew her body had the ability to create death. She never trusted, was told to not even imagine, that it also had the power, that magical banality, to create life.

Weaving in source material from the year she spent in hospital, written by both of her parents and her teenage self, this personal reflection is told through a seamless blend of narrative, documents, journal entries, and blog updates posted for friends and family.

With the probing lyricism of On Immunity by Eula Biss and the searing honesty of A Life's Work by Rachel Cusk, Natural Killer explores what it's like to live with a life-threatening illness and survive it; what it means for a body to turn against itself, to self-destruct from within; and what it takes to regain trust in a body that has committed the ultimate betrayal. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Natural Born Killer is available in April 2020.

Lye is a writer whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the National Post and Vice. She is also the author of the novel The Honey Farm.

Other books by Harriet Alida Lye

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