When Breath Becomes Air – the worldwide Best Seller by Paul Kalanithi

October 20, 2018 By TheNewYorkNews

When Breath Becomes Air – the worldwide Best Seller by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air – the worldwide Best Seller in non-fiction books by Paul Kalanithi

The Best Seller When Breath Becomes Air is a non-fiction autobiographical book written by Paul Kalanithi. It is a memoir about his life and illness, battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It was posthumously published by Random House on January 12, 2016.

In his last year of neurosurgical residency at Stanford University, Dr. Paul Kalanithi experiences negative changes in his health. Rapid weight loss, and severe back and chest pains begin to raise concern for him and his wife, Lucy. Paul worries that a possible cause for his symptoms is spinal cancer – unlikely for people in their thirties. However, when X-ray results in a routine medical check-up return looking just fine, his primary care physician and himself attribute the symptoms to aging and work overload. At thirty-six, Dr. Kalanithi had gained national prominence and become a respected member of the medical community.

Determined to finish the last months of his residency, he ignores whatever symptoms have not subsided. A few weeks later, the symptoms come back, stronger than before. Around this time, Paul and Lucy experience a rocky moment in their relationship when Lucy feels that Paul is not communicating with her. Visiting friends in New York, Paul is almost certain that he has cancer and says it out loud for the first time to his friend Mike. Returning home, upon landing in San Francisco, Paul receives a call from his doctor telling him that his lungs “look blurry.” When he arrives home with Lucy, both of them know what is happening. The next day, Paul checks in to the hospital and the room where he examined his patients, delivering good and bad news, becomes his own. With this event, the future that Paul had worked so hard for these past years vanishes before his eyes.

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a worldwide Best Seller in non-fiction

When Breath Becomes Air is a New York Times bestseller, spending 68 weeks on the non-fiction bestseller list.

Matt McCarthy of USA Today gave it 4 out of 4 stars and said:

“It’s a story so remarkable, so stunning, and so affecting that I had to take dozens of breaks just to compose myself enough to get through it.”

Further notable comments are:

“possesses the gravity and wisdom of an ancient Greek tragedy.”
–  Nick Romeo of The Boston Globe
“so original—and so devastating. . . . Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.”
Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly

Awards and honors

  • 2017 Wellcome Book Prize shortlist
  • 2017 Pulitzer Prize, Biography or Autobiography, finalist
  • 2017 Jan Michalski Prize second selection
  • 2016 Goodreads choice winner

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