the short story project

The Northeast Kingdom

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The Northeast Kingdom by Nathaniel Rich

“When your parents are still living, they stand between you and death. When they die, you’re next in line.” In this brilliant and elegant story, which won the National Magazine Award in 2012, Nathaniel Rich ridicules the dream of eternal life and human beings’ desire to go on living when faced with the terror of death in a tone that is humoristic, macabre but not at all insensitive. Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich teaches us that the death of another arouses nothing in us but the consciousness of our own life carrying on, but what happens if the years pass and the other goes on living? This change in the order of things, which is at the heart of The Northeast Kingdom, creates original and hilarious human situations that are a testament to the author’s sharp eye and heart.