For readers of Atul Gawande's Being Mortal and Henry Marsh's Do No Harm, an unforgettably powerful and heart-breaking book about how to live.
PAUL KALANITHI was a neurosurgeon and writer. He held degrees in
English literature, human biology, and history and philoso-phy of
science and medicine from Stanford and Cambridge universities
before graduating from Yale School of Medicine. He also received
the American Academy of Neu-rological Surgery's highest award for
His reflections on doctoring and illness have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Paris Review Daily.
Kalanithi died in March 2015, aged 37. He is survived by his wife, Lucy, and their daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.
A vital book about dying. Awe-inspiring and exquisite. Obligatory
reading for the living.
Rattling. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.
*Atul Gawande, author of BEING MORTAL*
A great, indelible book ... as intimate and illuminating as Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal,” to cite only one recent example of a doctor’s book that has had exceptionally wide appeal ... I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option ... gripping from the start ... 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.
*New York Times*
Powerful and poignant.
*The Sunday Times*
Less a memoir than a reflection on life and purpose… A vital book.
Powerful and poignant… Elegantly written posthumous memoir… Should be compulsory for anyone who intends to be a doctor… A profound reflection on the meaning of life.
A stark, fascinating, well-written and heroic memoir.
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, Kalanithi writes, is not how long, but rather how, we will live – and the answer does not appear in any medical textbook.
When I came to the end of the last flawless paragraph of When Breath Becomes Air, all I could do was turn to the first page and read the whole thing again. Searingly intelligent, beautifully written, and beyond brave, I haven't been so marked by a book in years.
*Gabriel Weston, author of DIRECT RED*
A remarkable book… Kalanithi writes very well, in a plain and matter-of-fact way, without a trace of self-pity, and you are immediately gripped and carried along… [He] was clearly a deeply thoughtful and compassionate man, and his death is a great loss to medicine, but at least he has left this remarkable book behind.
A meditation on what makes a life worth living.
It turns out not really to be about dying at all but about life and how to live it — though the closeness of death gives it an urgency and economy… When Breath Becomes Air is a Renaissance book from a Renaissance man. It is a work of philosophy and morality, a reconciliation of science and religion. There is even plot and excitement… It was only with the restrained, elegant epilogue written by his wife Lucy Kalanithi that I found myself weeping helplessly… When Breath Becomes Air tells us what means to live a good life, by giving us a glimpse into an exceptional one.
A powerful and compelling read.
*The Economist, Book of the Year*
An astonishingly affecting memoir and eloquent examination of what it is to be human and confront your own mortality… This is a remarkable book by a man who was driven by his passion for his life, his loves and his career. His death is undoubtedly a tragedy but in writing this memoir he has guaranteed that his voice and the important story it tells will resonate for years to come.
As thought-provoking as it was moving. The sheer exuberance of Kalnithi’s intellectual curiosity shone through in his writing.
*Evening Standard, Book of the Year*
To the venerable canon of doctors who could write (from Chekhov to Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande), another name can be added: that of Paul Kalanithi… Brilliantly written.
Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air… split my head open with its beauty. Truly. Madly. Deeply.
*Cheryl Strayed, author of WILD*
Thanks to When Breath Becomes Air, those of us who never met Paul Kalanithi will both mourn his death and benefit from his life. This one of a handful of books I consider to be a universal donor - I would recommend it to anyone, everyone.
*Ann Patchett, author of BEL CANTO*
A remarkable book about what it means to live…a tour de force…The book will be compared inevitably to Sacks’ work and also to the iconic book that Joan Didion wrote about grief, The Year of Magical Thinking. And like that book, it’s destined to become an elegiac classic on the subject of mortality. But it’s a different feeling from Didion’s gorgeous, melancholy fog of war. When Breath Becomes Air is electrically alive in its anticipation of death.