Siddhartha Mukherjee won Pulitzer for his book on Cancer
Apr 19, 2011 - 5:28:52 PM

New Delhi, April 19 - When Indian American Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer specialist, called his mother at 1 a.m. Tuesday to say he had won the Pulitzer, she thought he was pulling a fast one. The Mukherjee home in the capital's Safdarjung Enclave has been flooded with congratulatory calls since morning.

For Siddhartha's publisher Harper-Collins, it was yet another feather in the cap.

'It came as a complete surprise. Siddhartha called us at 1 and asked if we were awake. I said of course not - senior citizens don't stay up so late. Then he told me that he has won this prize and I just couldn't believe it,' Mukherjee's mother Chandana, who lives in Delhi, told IANS.

Siddhartha, 41, is a New York-based cancer specialist who won this year's Pulitzer in the general non-fiction category for his book 'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer'.

In the book, Siddhartha examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective and a biographer's passion, says the publisher. The result is an eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with - and perished from - for more than 5,000 years.

A resident of Safdarjung Enclave, homemaker Chandana said she and her husband Sibeswai Mukherjee have been flooded with calls since early Tuesday after the news broke out. 'There have been a lot of calls.'

Asked if they would fly down to meet their son to celebrate the occasion, she said they would go only in June.

'We had planned our vacation well in advance and have our tickets booked for June. So we are not advancing that. We will be going for a month or a month-and-a-half. Then the celebrations are going to happen with Siddhartha, his wife and the kids and his wife's family,' Chandana said.

The Delhi-born doctor's book is a worldwide bestseller, including in India, where 'readers are more inclined to reading fictions', a spokesperson for the capital-based Midland Book Store chain told IANS.

'Siddhartha Mukherjee has produced a real 'tour de force' with the 'Emperor of Maladies'. It is a warm, erudite and engaging book. The book is a panoramic history of the disease of cancer and its treatment that is infused with meticulous details. It is a heartfelt book - but not sentimental,' P.M. Sukumar, CEO of Harper-Collins India, told IANS.

He said 'for a non-fiction to hold and engross the reader from start to finish was a superlative achievement'. 'The Pulitzer is well deserved,' he said.

Friends and relatives are pouring in to congratulate the proud parents.

Siddhartha's wife, Sarah Sze, is a sculptor. He has two daughters - Leela, aged five-and-a-half, and Arya, who is just over a year old.

'Leela is very shy and doesn't like to speak on the phone. But the family is obviously very excited,' the doting grandmother said.

Siddhartha's sister is married and settled in Dhaka.

Siddhartha is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician at the CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital.

A Rhodes Scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford and from Harvard Medical School.

He was a Fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and an attending physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School.

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