Somewhere between a journal and a report, a question and an answer, Suicide: The Autoimmune Disorder of the Psyche takes up the “only serious problem in philosophy” and submits it to the only kind of scrutiny proper to it: the personal. In arriving at this “personal” account, however, Nao detours through decidedly un-private, public cultural touchpoints—the lives of celebrities, religion, television shows, sporting events—and in doing so lays bare how even this most subjective of phenomena grows out of an endless encounter with the world. Race has a part in this encounter. So does migration. As does money. Growing out of these entanglements, queer affinities bud and bloom in this text—which, made up of pen-and-ink drawings, photographs, and Nao’s playful spin on pilish, is simultaneously constrained and unconstrained—to become the bonds that can make one want to live on.
This manuscript. What is it? What is it? The laying out of a life along the razor’s edge of its own annihilation. An investigation of the conditions of its possibility. A reflection on famous suicides. Famous non-suicides. The illnesses within which health is inscribed. Memoir punctuated by image, number, text. Each word a brush stroke. Every metaphor a fatty lump. Constrained by the infinite sprawl of π, Suicide: The Autoimmune Disorder of the Psyche opens as a wound into a mind working through what it means to live by passing through the identical question of what it means to die. — FAR WALL
“After losing my father to suicide I was given many very thoughtful books about why we sometimes kill ourselves; none of them, even in sum, carried the insight, vision, or credibility of Vi Khi Nao’s SUICIDE: THE AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER OF THE PSYCHE. Achingly un-sentimental, extensively researched, exquisitely illustrated, and overflowing with personal wisdom (and, most importantly, warmth), SUICIDE inhabits a truly novel numbering system to chart a kind of star map to the present condition, a guide to failure, an ode to other people; a way, if we stick together, to survive.” —D.S. CHAPMAN
“Vi Khi Nao’s SUICIDE: THE AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER OF THE PYSCHE confronts the universal question of suicide with a scientific curiosity, mathematical precision, and visionary vulnerability that is uniquely their own, and will leave a lasting impression on any reader--especially those who know all-too-well the weight of the titular subject in their lives.” — RANDALL SCOTT
Vi Khi Nao traces all the ways suicide twisted around her family, her education, her art, and her heart condition in this brilliant memoir. It’s a revealing and honest account of her “suicidal scars of the soul” and the devastating effect that illness has on a life.—ANTHONY LUEBBERT