Indian-born American Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer physician and researcher, won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for his stunning first book, “The Emperor of All Maladies: A History of Cancer.”
Mukherjee’s book, the Pulitzer Committee wrote, is “an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science.”
Born in New Delhi, Siddhartha Mukherjee, 40, lives in New York with his artist wife Sarah Sze and two daughters. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center.
A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and The New Republic.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain,” by Nicholas Carr (W.W. Norton & Company), a thought provoking exploration of the Internet’s physical and cultural consequences, rendering highly technical material intelligible to the general reader; and “Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History,” by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner), a memorable examination of the longest and most brutal of all the wars between European settlers and a single Indian tribe.
According to the publisher:
The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.
In this book, Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.
Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.”
The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist. From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease.
Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.
Early Praise for The Emperor of All Maladies:
National Book Critic’s Circle Finalist, 2010
New York Times 10 Best Books of 2010
Oprah’s magazine 10 Best Books of 2010
Time magazine 10 Best Books of 2010
One of Amazon.com’s 100 Best Books of 2010.
“I feel incredible,” Mukherjee said. “I was actually in a bookstore when I received the email. It’s life-changing for me, and among the people I need to thank are the patients themselves. That’s one of the things I tried to do in the book is honour their stories and give them a voice.”
“For now, I plan to celebrate with my family,” he told the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Video: Siddhartha Mukherjee at The Leonard Lopate Show