Granta publisher Sigrid Rausing has defended her forthcoming memoir about the family impact of addiction after her late sister-in-law’s father complained it had “greatly harmed and upset the family”.
The Granta publisher and editor’s book, Mayhem, explores the death of Rausing's brother’s wife, Eva Rausing, in 2012 and is to be published next month by Hamish Hamilton.
Eva Rausing's body was discovered after a police raid at the London house she shared with Tetra Pak heir Hans Kristian Rausing, two months after she had died. Both had struggled with drug addictions. Her brother later pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body and was given a suspended sentence.
Hamish Hamilton, together with Alfred A Knopf in the US, announced it would publish the “searingly powerful memoir about the impact of addition on a family” back in January 2016. The book was acquired by Hamish Hamilton publishing director Simon Prosser.
But a month before the book is due for release, the father of Eva Rausing, Tom Kemeny, has released a statement condemning the title as “self-indulgent and pretentious” and saying it has “greatly harmed and upset the family”.
His main complaint is that he thinks Mayhem “overlooks” the kind, warm-hearted side of his daughter’s personality “in favour of its author’s justification for instigating a painful legal battle to take Eva’s children from her”.
However, in response Sigrid Rausing has also issued a statement, saying that while she understands that “any parent losing a child goes through unimaginable pain” and she has “some sympathy for Tom Kemeny’s wish to protect his daughter’s memory", "...most of the claims he makes about me, and my book, in his recent statement are simply not true”.
“It is also not true that I have some kind of hidden agenda, or any specific objectives,” Rausing continued. “Nor is my book mainly about Eva – it’s about the experience of living with addiction in the family, and watching people you love self-destruct in front of your eyes.”
She added: “I was trying to find a language for that experience, and to understand and think about what it means to live with addiction. That is, I think, an important conversation to have – but it’s not an easy or a comfortable one.”
Mayhem is described on Hamish Hamilton's website as "fierce, lyrical, and lucid" by novelist Siri Hustvedt. It will be published on 7th September in hardback priced £16.99.
Rausing is the editor of Granta magazine and the publisher of Granta Books and Portobello Books. Her first book, History, Memory and Identity in Post-Soviet Estonia: the End of a Collective Farm, was published in 2004 by Oxford University Press, and her second book, Everything Is Wonderful was published by Grove Atlantic in 2014.