DIED Six weeks after a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Irish journalist and author Nuala O'Faolain confessed that life, for her, had lost its beauty. "There is an absolute difference between knowing that you are likely to die--let's say, within the next year--and not knowing when you are going to die," she said during a tearful radio interview. Ever unflinching in her writing, O'Faolain explored the struggle of growing up poor in mid-20th century Ireland in her first memoir, Are You Somebody?, before penning the novel My Dream of You, also set in her homeland. She struggled to find meaning in her...

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