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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

And the Pulitzer Prize goes to....

The Washington Post was recently quoted "It's time to welcome a new star in the constellation of great writer-doctors," Days later, this star “new star in the constellation” bagged the Pulitzer Prize, 2011 in the "general non-fiction" category.
It was talking about none other than Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Indian–American, who received one of the most coveted awards in the United States for his work - The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

For information on Pulitzer 2011 winners,

A Columbia University cancer researcher and a physician, Dr. Mukherjee, embodies his work in a nearly  600-page book that is part history, part memoir, and part the story of cancer research over the last few decades.
The Pulitzer citation called the book, 'An elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science.'
One reason the book hit the bestseller list is that it talks about such an unusual topic in such an intriguing manner. Also, that many readers know someone who is fighting cancer or has someone in the family who is undergoing treatment for it.

As Mukherjee writes in the first chapter, while describing his initial encounters as a physician with cancer patients  - "Cancer was an all-consuming presence in our lives. It invaded our imaginations; it occupied our memories; it infiltrated every conversation, every thought. And if we, as physicians, found ourselves immersed in cancer, then our patients found their lives virtually obliterated by the disease."

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee
He also makes a reference to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's novel Cancer Ward : "The diagnosis of cancer-not the disease, but the mere stigma of its presence- becomes a death sentence for Rusanov (the protagonist of cancer-ward).

He looked at cancer from the very early recordings of the disease, some 4000 years ago & thus began to trace the history of cancer from its first recorded description.
All this as he struggled to answer questions from his patients, "Where are we in the war on cancer? How did we get here? What happens next?" A grueling year in a cancer training program left him 'in stunned incoherence.'

The book may not provide any breakthrough in medicine to cure cancer, nor is it any sort of counseling for the cancer patients. But we still hold it in high regard for the mere audacity of the author to write about so tabooed a topic. It definitely provides a deeper understanding of cancer as a disease & thus stems the compassion for the cancer patients.

We give a hats off to the concept & the spirit that it is written in. What about you?


  1. i agree, its a very atypical topic to be written about.

  2. Hi Guys! Very true. The book got its attention due to the chosen topic & surely shall explain to a lot of people, the life of a cancer patient & the problems faced by them.