“In the spring of 1986, Sue Miller found herself more and more deeply involved in caring for her father as he slipped into the grasp of Alzheimer’s disease. “The Story of My Father” is a profound, deeply moving account of her father’s final days and her own response to it. With care, restraint and consummate skill, Miller writes of her struggles to be fully with her father in his illness while confronting her own terror of abandonment, and eventually the long, hard work of grieving for him. And through this candid, painful record, she offers a rigorous, compassionate inventory of two lives, a powerful meditation on the variable nature of memory and the difficulty of weaving a truthful narrative from the threads of a dissolving life.”
Leningrad, 1952. Andrei, a young hospital doctor and Anna, a nursery school teacher, are forging a life together in the post-war, post-siege wreckage. But their happiness is precarious, like that of millions of Russians who must avoid the claws of Stalin’s merciless Ministry for State security. So when Andrei is asked to treat the seriously ill child of a senior secret police officer, he and Anna are fearful. Trapped in an impossible, maybe unwinnable game, can they avoid the whispers and watchful eyes of those who will say or do anything to save themselves?
Steven Oliver HYMS: I’d recommend this book which is a fictionalised account of the ‘Doctor’s plot’ in Stalin’s Russia – who would like to treat the son of the local secret police chief for osteosarcoma? I think it’s a good read, with some challenging ethical choices to explore about what it may mean to be a ‘good doctor’ in ‘bad times’.
Jean McKenree HYMS: This story (by Abraham Verghese) is narrated by one of a pair of twins of Indian descent born in Ethiopa. Both grow up to be doctors in very different ways. While the story line is a bit contrived, especially the ending, the earlier part set in Ethiopia is intriguing and weaves in the impact of poverty and corruption on health in fascinating and somewhat disturbing ways.
In Johannesburg, a small time criminal, Tsotsi, is a teenager without feelings, hardened by his tough life. After a series of violent gang hits, Tsotsi hijacks a car. However, whilst driving, Tsotsi finds that there is a baby on the back seat. He brings the baby to his house in the slum. The next six days bring about a change in him that couldn’t be foreseen.