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biography

When Breath Becomes Air

 
 
Author
Paul Kalanithi. Abraham Verghese, foreword.
Publisher Random House  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 7.8 x 5.35 x 0.95 inches
ISBN 9780812988406
Pages/Publication Date 229/2016
Daedalus Item Code 69192
This item is not available.
Description
(A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2016) At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer—the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated overnight. In this profoundly moving, beautifully observed memoir, Kalanithi chronicles his earlier transformation from a naïve medical student "possessed," as he writes, "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life," into a neurosurgeon at Stanford, and finally into a new father and a patient confronting his own mortality. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions that Kalanithi wrestled with before he died in March 2015, while still working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift. "I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything," he writes. "Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: 'I can't go on. I'll go on'."

"Part of this book's tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: 'It's just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.' And just important enough to be unmissable."—NYTimes

"Possesses the gravity and wisdom of an ancient Greek tragedy.... [Kalanithi] delivers his chronicle in austere, beautiful prose. The book brims with insightful reflections on mortality that are especially poignant coming from a trained physician familiar with what lies ahead."—Boston Globe

"Powerful and poignant ... [the book] should be compulsory for anyone who intends to be a doctor.... A profound reflection on the meaning of life."—Sunday Times (London)

 
 
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