The fiction new releases section at Readings Books in Carlton is on the lefthand side, right as you walk into the store. It’s often the first place I stop on my frequent visits to my favourite local bookstore. 

On Sunday night, as we wandered in after grabbing a coffee and bigne San Giuseppe at Brunetti’s across the road, I turned left as we walked in. I slowly wandering around the high table in the middle of the section before turning my attention to the shelves along the wall, book covers facing outwards, enticing browsers to read them. 

That’s when I saw this:

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I quickly picked it up, opened it to a random page about a third of the way in and realised quickly that one of the characters had diabetes. That was enough for me to buy the book. 

I spent the Monday public holiday wrapped in quilts, slurping tea and whizzing through the book. I couldn’t read it fast enough!

After finishing, I searched online and found an interview with author, Sascha Rothchild, where the book was referred to as ‘diabetes noir’, a genre where tales such as Reversal of Fortune (which is based on a true story) and other death-by-insulin crime thrillers, along with a few episodes of Law and Order, neatly fit. Perhaps ‘insulin noir’ would be a better label.

It turns out that the author’s husband has type 1 diabetes, and that was the catalyst for her writing a book featuring a character with diabetes. I’m not going to give anything away, other than to say that it was diabetes that hooked me in, and it was diabetes that saw me turning pages at lightning speed, even though I could see just where the storyline was headed. 

The details about diabetes are accurate, and only mildly sensationalist. Really, only one aspect is slightly overplayed, but I willingly overlooked that because it was necessary to the narrative. There were certainly some very clever diabetes observations that wouldn’t be out of place on any given day in the DOC, such as the protagonist commenting on how, when finding out about someone with diabetes, random strangers insist on sharing their own ‘worst case scenario’ stories, which inevitably involve someone losing a limb and being blind, and what the bedside table of a PWD might look like.

This isn’t really the story of a person with diabetes, and diabetes is not the main character. But it threads its way through it, popping up now and then in a way that, for this reader with diabetes, kept my attention throughout. I suspect for people not familiar with diabetes, or new to the diabetes world, it could be a little chilling and unsettling, but probably not for anyone familiar with the story of Sunny and Claus von Bülow.

Obviously, I’m desperately keen to hear what others with diabetes think of the book. I know I can’t be the only PWD drawn to narratives about diabetes to see just how we are represented in literature and on film. 

So, please go read it. It’s available everywhere online and from bookstores. It’s also available to download and as an audio book. Ask your local library to get a copy in if they don’t already have it. And then get in touch so we can have an informal book group chat about it. I’m sure that we’ll have lots to say!