Dying, in Other Words is the debut novel of English author Maggie Gee, variously described as surrealist and modern gothic.[1] It garnered "rave reviews" in The Observer and The Times.[2] According to the OUP's Good Fiction Guide, a "vividly written experimental novel" it made a "strong impression" when it was published in 1981.[3] Containing "postmodernist gimmicks"[4] and self-refexive structures[5] it concerns a supposedly dead woman rewriting the story of her own death.[6]

Dying, In Other Words
First edition
AuthorMaggie Gee
PublisherHarvester Press
Publication date
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint

The novel led to Gee appearing in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list for 1983.[7] Although in a 2012 interview Maggie Gee says that 'I see it as partly luck – the novel came out in July when nothing much was published then, the first review was a rave in The Observer, then The Times ran an extract and everyone fell into line, because critics are easily influenced.[8]

In a 1997 interview Gee admits: "I was 25 when I wrote that book, and I suppose I had more of an exhibitionist streak at that age. I had such fun with the playfulness. As I got older I realised that being categorized as experimental, although it gets you lots of review space, is death; also that you can frighten a lot of readers off."[1]

Plot introduction


The novel concerns the death of Moira Penny, a postgraduate literature student in Oxford,[9] whose naked body is found outside her apartment. But Moira Penny is also writing a novel about the death of an author. The narrative is circular in nature and "snakes through the minds of assorted people as they react to Moira's demise".[10][4]



Kirkus Reviews concludes that "Some of this material is - even if read as partial parody - stale and stagey. It certainly doesn't add up satisfyingly, with or without reference to the metafictional framework. But, page by page, Gee demonstrates promise as an ironic observer and darkly lyrical maker of vignettes - talents which would show up far better in a more straightforward, less cutely 'literary' novel'."[4]


  1. ^ a b pp. 213-221, Studia Neophilologica, Volume 69, Issue 2, 1997
  2. ^ "Go on, get on with it: an interview with Maggie Gee". Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  3. ^ Jane Rogers (ed.), Good Fiction Guide, 2nd edition, OUP, 2005, p. 260. ISBN 019-280647-5
  4. ^ a b c DYING, IN OTHER WORDS by Maggie Gee | Kirkus Retrieved 2013-07-28
  5. ^ page 51, Murder by the Book?: Feminism and the Crime Novel By Sally Rowena Munt.
  6. ^ Maggie Gee | British Council Literature Retrieved 2013-07-28
  7. ^ writers' hub - Paint Brushes and Pitch Forks - Maggie Gee Archived 2014-11-09 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  8. ^ Go on, get on with it: an interview with Maggie Gee. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  9. ^ George Stade, Karen Karbiener, Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present, Volume 2, p. 200.
  10. ^ grumbooks: Dying, In Other Words - Maggie Gee. Retrieved 2013-07-28.