Author of the week
Maybe a tabloid tragedy can never again be truly a personal tragedy, said Rachel Cooke in TheGuardian.com. In her new book, Mayhem, Swedish-born heiress and philanthropist Sigrid Rausing labors to contextualize the events that led to the 2012 death of her sisterin- law, Eva, whose body was left to rot for two months in the luxury London home she had shared with Rausing’s brother, Hans. Both Hans and Eva had been drug addicts for so long that Sigrid had taken custody of their children five years earlier. And Eva had died of heart failure with a crack pipe in her hand. Still, the shock of the news, and the media’s feverish response to it, prompted Rausing—who owns and edits the literary magazine Granta—to start piecing together her own version. “I got this very intense urge to find out exactly what happened,” she says.
In Mayhem, said Gaby Wood in The Telegraph (U.K.), Rausing readily accepts that she failed Hans and Eva. “I see my complicity, my guilt,” she writes. “I see my tiredness, my hopelessness, my false moral superiority. I regret everything.” Such soul-searching hasn’t impressed Eva’s father, though; he has condemned the memoir as “pretentious” and “self-indulgent.” But Rausing defends her decision to publish, to try to capture addiction’s challenges and family heartbreak from the inside. “The story was terribly public already,” she says, so sharing the intimate details was “like pushing a fishhook through your finger rather than trying to pull it out. Yes, it’s painful, and yes, you may cause pain, but in the end I think it’s the best thing to do.”