A profound account and humane penmanship of Indian-born US doctor Siddhartha Mukherjee has not just redefined literary excellence, but it has also given his teachers at St Columba’s School, a reason to rejoice.
The school added yet another feather to its cap with Mukherjee winning this coveted award that only three other Indians, Gobind Behari Lal, Jhumpa Lahiri and Geeta Anand have won.
“I always knew the boy had a lot of promise and this morning when I got the news, I was ecstatic,” says Sarabjeet Sachdev, who taught Mukherjee chemistry in high school.
A stellar debater and an all-round student, Mukherjee went onto pursue medicine at Oxford University and Harvard University. Through his experience as an oncologist and tales from history, he arrived at a sensitive account of a malady that still puzzles medical scientists.
“He was one of the most gifted students and also the first to introduce the concept of a powerpoint presentation in a symposium. Siddhartha changed that for us. Till very recently, I'd tell all my students that one day Siddhartha Mukherjee would do us all proud — and he sure did,” says an excited Sachdev.
Mukherjee, who won the Pulitzer prize for The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, has examined various facets of the ailment in the book.
His promise began to show early as a student when he was pitched against formidable competition. “I remember him as a debater. He was a participant in the very prestigious Govardhan Das Declamation competition and when he spoke, we were all floored,” says Ms George, who had also interviewed him for the St. Columba's school magazine.