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Pulitzer prize for Indian-American doctor

world Updated: Apr 20, 2011 01:10 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Indian-origin cancer specialist Siddhartha Mukherjee has won the Pulitzer for his first book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, in the general non-fiction category. And with the bestseller headed for the silver screen as a documentary, the future could even hold an Emmy or an Oscar.

“We are working on turning it into a documentary,” Mukherjee told HT, “to narrate the history of cancer — it’s a complex subject.” The Pulitzer citation describes Maladies … as “an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science”.

Since it hit the stands in 2010, it’s been an international success. Though a sales count is not yet available, here’s a hint to its success: the hardcover is selling so well, a paperback isn’t planned until September.

Mukherjee, who grew up in Delhi, left for the US when he was 18 and is now assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician at the Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

“This has been the most amazing honour,” Mukherjee said from New York.

Where does he go from here? “To see my patients,” he said. Another book? “If there is one coming out of seeing my patients,” he said, “that’s how the first one happened.”

And, of course, there’s the documentary.