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Fiction Literary

Good Death, A

by (author) Gil Courtemanche

translated by Wayne Grady

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Aug 2006
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2006
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2012
    List Price

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Following the worldwide success of A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, Gil Courtemanche returns with a short, intimate, powerful second novel. A Good Death describes the everyday tragedy, horror, cowardice and love that lie at the heart of one family.


On Christmas Eve, a family has gathered for the obligatory dinner. The father, only yesterday an imposing figure who terrorized his children, has suddenly fallen prey to Parkinson's and finds himself trapped inside a disintegrating body. Andre, the eldest child, is approaching sixty. He has never loved his father, yet can't help but be moved as he witnesses his decline. How should we behave towards a parent to whom all pleasures are forbidden? Sould we struggle to prolong his life, or help him to end it? Around the dinner table, opinions are divided. Once more, Gil Courtemanche takes us on a deeply moving voyage into the essence of our humanity.

About the authors

Gil Courtemanche was a journalist, essayist and novelist based in Montreal, Quebec. His best-selling first novel, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, was an international sensation; it has been translated into many languages, sold in over twenty countries and made into a film. In 2010, his novel A Good Death was made into a film, The Last Escape. On Friday, August 19, 2011, Courtemanche lost his two-year battle with cancer of the larynx. His work will live on as a testament to his commitment to outing injustices in the world.

Gil Courtemanche's profile page

Wayne Grady is the general editor of this series of literary anthologies devoted to the world's natural wonders. One of Canada's foremost popular science writers and the winner of three Science in Society awards from the Canadian Science Writers' Association, he is the author of twelve nonfiction books on such diverse adventures as hunting dinosaurs in the Gobi Desert, investigating global warming at the North Pole, and discovering the wild in an urban metropolis. His books include the bestselling Tree: A Life Story, written with David Suzuki, and Bringing Back the Dodo. His most recent book is the award-winning The Great Lakes: The Natural History of a Changing Region. He lives near Kingston, Ontario.

Wayne Grady's profile page


  • Nominated, Ontario Library Association - Evergreen Award
  • Winner, Alcuin Society Book Design Awards - Prose Fiction

Editorial Reviews

"The beauty of A Good Death is in Courtemanche’s deft exploration of Andrea’s love for his father, even as he denies to himself that he feels this love. His quest for understanding, and the conflicting needs of parents and children, make for an intense emotional journey that is raw and honest."

Geist Magazine

"[A Good Death is] a striking account of a family and its efforts to cope with the binding prospect of death. ...[The] rather original approach challenges readers to look at their own lives and examine past events which, for better or worse, have shaped the individuals they have become."

Books in Canada

"Canadian author Courtemanche beautifully captures the conflicted dynamic of a dutiful child who has never loved his father, desperately needs to please his loving mother, and can only survive by maintaining emotional distance from the whole messy swamp of lifelong familial grievances and entrenched behaviors...This follow-up to the brilliant Sunday at the Pool in Kigali (2003) beautifully compacts the big issues of aging, dying, and duty into scenes of resentful devotion, cheerful fatalism, and intimacy held at arm's length. Highly recommended."

Library Journal

"Gil Courtemanche turns his unsparing a smaller but nevertheless seething locus for a political and ethical dilemma -- the raises powerful questions -- what is a good death, or life, anyway? And the ending is literally breathtaking."

Kitchener-Waterloo Record

Other titles by Gil Courtemanche

Other titles by Wayne Grady