Jenny Diski on a Cancer Diagnosis and Keeping a Diary

We’d hardly got home before I said: ‘Well, I suppose I’m going to write a cancer diary.’ The only other thing I might have said was: ‘Well, I’m not going to write a cancer diary.’ Right there: a choice? I’m a writer, have been since I was small, and have earned my living at it for thirty years. I write fiction and non-fiction, but it’s almost always personal. I start with me, and often enough end with me. I’ve never been apologetic about that, or had a sense that my writing is ‘confessional’. What else am I going to write about but how I know and don’t know the world? I may not make things up in fiction, or tell the truth in non-fiction, but documentary or invented, it’s always been me at the centre of the will to put descriptions out into the world. I lie like all writers but I use my truths as I know them in order to do so.

— Jenny Diski in The London Review of Books on discovering that she has inoperable cancer and publicly writing about it.

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Photo: Suki Dhanda