Indian-American physician Siddhartha Mukherjee has become the fourth person of Indian origin to bag the prestigious Pulitzer Prize 2011 in the general non-fiction category for his acclaimed book on cancer, ‘The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.’
The first being Gobind Behari Lal way back in 1937 awarded with the Pulitzer in the Reporting category for his coverage of science at the tercentenary of Harvard University when he was working for Universal Service and similarly followed Jhumpa Lahiri for fiction for her collection of stories “Interpreters of Maladies” and Journalist-writer of Indian origin Geeta Anand.
According to the Pulitzer citation, the book by the New York-based cancer physician and researcher , “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”, published by HarperCollins, was described by the jury as “an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science”, said P M Sukumar, CEO of HarperCollins India, “Siddhartha Mukherjee has produced a real tour de force, with ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’.The Pulitzer for general non-fiction is awarded to a “distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category”. It carries a USD 10,000 award.
India-born Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Centre.
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.
In his book, 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”.
An award-winning science writer, 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 withand perished from for more than 5,000 years.
The “riveting, urgent and surprising” book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.
It is a profoundly humane “biography” of cancer from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the 20th century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.
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,” according to information on the book on Pulitzer’s website.
The book provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments besides providing hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.
It is a wonderfully warm, erudite and engaging book.
“A panoramic history of the disease of cancer and its treatment that is infused with meticulous detail and clarity, it is a heartfelt book, but not sentimental. For a non-fiction work on cancer to hold and engross the reader from start to finish: a superlative achievement! The Pulitzer is well deserved!!”