When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi

Because A Good Book Is An Event That Listens

When Breath Becomes Air is an extraordinary memoir from Paul Kalanithi that is a life-affirming reflection on facing mortality. This non-fiction autobiographical book that captures the life of a neurosurgeon is filled with an essential component of the truth that all humanity faces.

This Best Seller opens up with a trainee surgeon examining a set of images form a CT scan. His highly trained eye takes in how the tumors are dispersed across the lungs, how the spine is deformed, how one lobe of the liver has been annihilated. The diagnosis is straightforward: “Cancer, widely disseminated.” Only one thing makes this case different from the dozens he deals with each week: these are scans of his own body.

At the age of thirty-six, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He was on the verge of qualifying as a neurosurgeon after a decade of training and was planning to start a family with his wife, Lucy. Instead, he found himself confronting not only a terminal illness but also a profound identity crisis “I found myself the sheep, lost and confused.” One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation journey from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father. This account of his transition from doctor to a patient was written in the year or so prior to his death in 2015, by which time he was 37 and his daughter, Cady, was nine months old.

The power of this book lies in its eloquent insistence that we are all confronting our mortality every day, whether we know it or not. The real question we face, Paul writes, is not how long, but how we will live. Paul Kalanithi: Paul Sudhir Arul Kalanithi was an Indian-American neurosurgeon and writer. His book When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir about his life and illness battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It was posthumously published by Random House in January 2016.

You Can Get The Book At Prestige Bookshop, Text Book Centre, Qusoma Library & Bookshop & Yaya Bookstop

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