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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Siddhartha Mukherjee, his book and the Pulitzer

Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer specialist of Indian origin, and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction category.
The Emperor of All Maladies
When Indian American Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer specialist, called his mother at 1 a.m. Tuesday to say he had won the Pulitzer, she thought he was pulling a fast one. The Mukherjee home in the capital's Safdarjung Enclave has been flooded with congratulatory calls since morning.

Chandana Mukherjee was “worried” when son Siddhartha, a New York-based oncologist, woke her up in the dead of the night. “He does not not usually call at odd hours, but he called us at 1 am on Tuesday. The first thing I asked him was whether his family was alright,” Mukherjee told Newsline. But as it turned out, it was a sweet surprise for the proud mother.

Incidentally, Siddhartha had made her read the book even before it was published. “I was in New York with him because his daughter had just been born. He used to bring printouts of his writing home, for me to read. It is an excellent book and the best thing about it is anybody can enjoy it,” Chandana said.

“Every year, I tell my students that my former student Siddhartha Mukherjee will win big laurels. Today, I feel proud,” says Sarabjeet Sachdev, 55, chemistry teacher at St Columba's in Delhi.

Friends and relatives are pouring in to congratulate the proud parents.

Siddhartha's wife, Sarah Sze, is a sculptor. He has two daughters - Leela, aged five-and-a-half, and Arya, who is just over a year old.
The Emperor of All Maladies
The Delhi-born doctor's book is a worldwide bestseller, including in India, where "readers are more inclined to reading fictions," a spokesperson for the capital-based Midland Book Store chain told IANS.

Cancer is often described as a 'modern' illness because its metaphors are so modern. It is a disease of overproduction, of fulminant growth tipped into the abyss of no control, says Pulitzer Prize winning writer and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee in his book, 'The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer'.

In writing this book, he started off by imagining the project as a 'history' of cancer.

Unlike other medical books with a lot of technical jargon, it is an interesting and easily comprehensible read.

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