A breathtaking literary debut, Love Letters of the Angels of Death begins as a young couple discover the remains of his mother in her mobile home. The rest of the family fall back, leaving them to reckon with the messy, unexpected death. By the time the burial is over, they understand this will always be their role: to liaise with death on behalf of people they love. They are living angels of death. All the major events in their lives - births, medical emergencies, a move to a northern boomtown, the theft of a veteran's headstone - are viewed from this ambivalent angle. In this shadowy place, their lives unfold: fleeting moments, ordinary occasions, yet on the brink of otherworldliness. In spare, heart-stopping prose, the transient joys, fears, hopes and heartbreaks of love, marriage, and parenthood are revealed through the lens of the eternal, unfolding within the course of natural life. This is a novel for everyone who has ever been happily married -- and for everyone who would like to be.
"Jennifer Quist's Love Letters of the Angels of Death is formidable, a woman's portrait of a man's portrait of the woman he loves. It offers all the immersion and propulsion of the best fiction, but is temporally liquid in the way of lyric poetry. How does she do it? Funny, dark, deceptively ambitious. I couldn't put it down, not only because I enjoyed it so much, but because it contained so much I had to know." -- Padma Viswanathan, author of The Toss of a Lemon
"Jennifer Quist's Love Letters of the Angels of Death gives new meaning to the marriage vow "Till death do us part." This original, brilliant novel overflows with the exuberance of life shot through with the devastations of mortality. Weddings and wit, family and funerals, passion and pain, the love between the main characters ultimately defies death itself. In vivid prose consisting of a memorably distinctive narrative voice and riveting images, Quist writes of our unspoken anxieties about the plethora of dead things in our midst from dust to the incorruptible bodies of saints. Unsentimental, mordantly funny, Love Letters of the Angels of Death is innovative, surprising, at times heart-wrenching but not despairing, and always remarkable." -- Kenneth Radu, author of Sex in Russia