Lucy Kalanithi and John Duberstein, the spouses of the posthumously bestselling authors Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air) and Nina Riggs (The Bright Hour), will discuss grief, loss, and love in a conversation moderated by KEXP’s John Richards.
There is no reception for this event. A book-signing will follow the conversation.
Lucy Kalanithi and John Duberstein are spouses of the posthumously bestselling authors Paul Kalanithi and Nina Riggs, respectively. Paul’s 2016 memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, chronicles his final years facing lung cancer at age 37. Nina’s 2017 memoir, The Bright Hour, follows her battle with breast cancer at age 39. The books quickly rose to the top of must-read lists and reviews often mentioned them together.
Poet Nina Riggs was just 37 years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s memoir is about how to live—and love—every day with “death in the room.”
Riggs’s book continued the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in 2016 with When Breath Becomes Air, the memoir of his final years facing lung cancer at age 37. His book chronicles a transformation from a medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient himself, confronting his own mortality.
February 26 marks one year since Nina’s death. A few days before she died, Nina suggested that John reach out to Lucy saying, “She has experience with this, she’ll know what to do.” Lucy had lost Paul in 2015 and had since been in contact with Nina after reading her “Modern Love” column entitled “When a Couch Is More Than a Couch.” Lucy also wrote a glowing review for The Bright Hour and checked on Nina often via email. Two days after Nina passed away, John contacted Lucy, and the two began to email regularly. Both felt an instant and deepening connection that was confirmed when they met face-to-face for the first time two months later.
John is currently on tour for the paperback release of The Bright Hour. Lucy will join him for this event, and the pair will discuss their late spouses’ books, their grief, loss, and love, in conversation with KEXP’s John Richards.
Richards is the host of “The Morning Show” and the “Mom Show” on KEXP. The “Mom Show” is a four-hour program of remembrance, reflection, and tribute to loved ones who are no longer with us. The show originally began as a memorial to Richards’ own mother who passed away from cancer.