Podcast + Book Review: The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam.

by |August 30, 2016

If you could help someone in pain, would you?

Palliative care nurse Steven Amsterdam, and award-winning author of Things we Didn’t See Coming and What the Family Needed visited Booktopia recently to chat his latest book, The Easy Way Out.

Speaking about The Easy Way Out and its topic of assisted suicide, Amsterdam said he wanted to “unpack this topic as well as I could… I wanted to interrogate the topic. I wanted to see… what are the options.” And his conclusion: “Dignity is overrated.”

Caroline Baum, who reviewed the book, called it “intelligent, relevant and immensely thought-provoking”. Read her full review below, and listen to her podcast with the author.

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Review by Caroline Baum

This book is intelligent, relevant and immensely thought-provoking, tackling the controversial topic of assisted dying head-on. If you want to read a serious novel that will make you question your position on the subject while being immensely engaging and entertaining, look no further. It’s got the topical bite that you’d expect from Lionel Shriver: like her, Amsterdam brings a lethally cool, rational, methodical attack to a taboo most would prefer not to tackle. In this case, the author is a palliative care nurse, so he really knows what he’s talking about.

This book is intelligent, relevant and immensely thought-provoking, tackling the controversial topic of assisted dying head-on.

His central character Evan is mysterious and intriguing: he grew up on a commune with his mum Viv, a gambler who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is determined to maintain her independence. By day Evan is a suicide assistant on a hush-hush pilot project in a hospital. By night, he unwinds in a no-strings attached sexual arrangement with a male couple.

Amsterdam renders each death that Evan assists with subtlety and unsentimental respect for the process – each scenario is a little bit different, testing Evan with varied challenges. After a minor stumble in the hospital program, he goes freelance with an under-the-radar volunteer group, presenting him with more people who have decided to end it all, and organises everything right down to the scented candles, the soundtrack and who will discover their death once they are gone. Amidst a flurry of calls from end of life clients, Viv suddenly goes missing, and Evan is faced with questions about her own care and intentions.

The Easy Way Out is rich with irony, a brilliant, uncomfortable but hugely important novel that I predict will be up for many prizes and deserves to win something major. It makes a significant, eloquent and humane contribution to an urgent public debate.

 

The Easy Way Outby Steven Amsterdam

The Easy Way Out

by Steven Amsterdam

A brand new novel everyone will be talking about from the award-winning author of THINGS WE DIDN'T SEE COMING and WHAT THE FAMILY NEEDED.

If you could help someone in pain, would you?

Evan is a nurse, a suicide assistant. His job is legal . . . just. He's the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it.

Evan's friends don't know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn't know what he's up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble...

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.

Comments

  • November 20, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Your post has moved the debate fowdrra. Thanks for sharing!

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