The opening scene of ‘Everyman’ takes place in a graveyard. (I immediately thought of Ian McEwan’s ‘Amsterdam’): This is how it begins:
The author has said this is a novel about illness, death and fear. ‘Everyman’ is a compact novel of 180 pages with dense and sometimes hard to digest images, not because of its style, which is quick and accessible, but because it conveys very concisely the feeling of loss and despair anyone has felt when losing someone close to one. So far, this is my favorite Roth novel. Some quotations from an interview that I edited ahead:
“Everyman is the name of a line of English plays from the 15th century, allegorical plays, moral theatre. They were performed in cemeteries, and the theme is always salvation. The classic is called Everyman, it's from 1485, by an anonymous author. It was right in between the death of Chaucer and the birth of Shakespeare. The moral was always 'Work hard and get into heaven', 'Be a good Christian or go to hell'. Everyman is the main character and he gets a visit from Death. He thinks it's some sort of messenger, but Death says, 'I am Death' and Everyman's answer is the first great line in English drama: 'Oh, Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind.' When I thought of you least. My new book is about death and about dying. Well, what do you think?"