From a doctor Oliver Sacks has called a "born storyteller", a riveting account of practicing medicine at a fast-paced urban hospital.
For two decades, Dr. Danielle Ofri has cared for patients at Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the country and a crossroads for the world's cultures. In Medicine in Translation she introduces us, in vivid, moving portraits, to her patients, who have braved language barriers, religious and racial divides, and the emotional and practical difficulties of exile in order to access quality health care. Living and dying in the foreign country we call home, they have much to teach us about the American way, in sickness and in health.
“Danielle Ofri is a finely gifted writer, a born storyteller as well as a born physician.” (Oliver Sacks, M.D.)
"A gifted storyteller, Ofri provides vivid details that bring readers right into the exam room with her... describing how her patients’ histories stirred her to practice medicine more compassionately, inspired her with their hope and fortitude." (The Washington Post)
"Her writing tumbles forth with color and emotion. She demonstrates an ear for dialogue, a humility about the limits of her medical training, and an extraordinary capacity to be touched by human suffering." (Boston Globe)
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Enjoyed it all the way through, but...
- Neight "neight64"
More Sociology, less Medicine
I enjoy reading books on medical issues primarily for the 'technology', but I suppose it's my own fault for not reading the teaser before buying the book. Danielle Ofri's book has precious little to do with medicine, and is, for all intents and purposes, a personal journal, primarily concentrating mostly on language and culture, with the barest minimum of medicine as part of the content. The book consists largely of the interactions with her patients, who are most often foreign, non-English speaking, and culturally apart from her own experience... with a thinnest amount of actual medical content. A social worker would probably have just as much to say, and possibly more, without the pretense of medicine in the book title.
Dr. Ofri is apparently a frustrated amateur novelist (she described one motivation for moving her family to Costa Rica, for a year, as a chance to work on a novel). The prose is lyrical, like a novel... but the substance is most often banal. Dr. Ofri, I'm sorry to say, comes across more as a self-possessed over-achiever, attempting to elevate her personal experiences above their natural level of 'ordinary' to something more than that. Her story impressed me as a person a bit too eager to experience a full life, fuller than would satisfy most people, and probably still not full enough to satisfy even Dr. Ofri. I found the attitude perhaps a bit off-putting.
The narrator did a workmanlike job, considering the banality of the material.
Actually, a character needed to be added: Dr. Ofri's husband, who she referred to in only rare occasions, and more as an object than a partner. Consider the rather substantial decision to uproot her family and move to Costa Rica, it might have been nice to understand HIS reasons for doing so; Dr. Ofri offers only her own.
By this review, I don't mean to disparage Dr. Ofri; she is obviously a talented woman and a committed MD... it's just that her journal seems more of a vanity project, than a treatise with something significant to say.
- Norman B. Bernstein "Engineer, sailor, and prolific reader of non-fiction"