When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi

Memoir, Medicine, Neuroscience

Non-Fiction

Published by The Bodley Head

Longlist 2017

‘When Breath Becomes Air’ is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

‘When Breath Becomes Air’ chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all.

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