Just three weeks after publication, Indian American cancer specialist Siddhartha Mukherjee's first book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer has been rated among "The 10 Best Books of 2010" by the New York Times.
The list featuring New Delhi-born Mukherjee's book in the third place among five non-fiction books will appear in the Dec 12 print edition of the Times Book Review, the influential US daily announced in a preview on Monday.
The Times described the book which had made it to the Best Sellers list last week as "Mukherjee's magisterial 'biography' of the most dreaded of modern afflictions. He excavates the deep history of the 'war' on cancer, weaving haunting tales of his own clinical experience with sharp sketches of the sometimes heroic, sometimes misguided scientists who have preceded him in the fight."
"I am so excited," Mukherjee told IANS on phone from New York. "In some ways I would have written the book even if only one copy had been sold."
"I felt that there was an urgency. There was a quality about it that I felt the story had to be told even if one person read the book," he said. "The fact that so many people are reading it makes me all the happier."
Asked if given the success of his first book, he planned to pen another soon, Mukherjee said: "Right now, I don't know. I hope to, but I am still in a daze about what's going on about this book."
The "powerful and ambitious first book" as the Times said in a recent review tells "one of the most extraordinary stories in medicine: a history of cancer, which will kill about 600,000 Americans by the end of this year, and more than seven million people around the planet."
Mukherjee started on the road to this book when he began advanced training in cancer medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in the summer of 2003.
The Times describes The Emperor of All Maladies as a history of eureka moments and decades of despair.
"Mukherjee stitches stories of his own patients into this history, not always smoothly. But they are very strong, well-written and unsparing of himself," the reviewer said.
Jonathan Franzen's Freedom topped the fiction section of the list while Jennifer Homan's Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet was number one in the non-fiction section. Both sections had five books each.