My Own Country
A Doctor's Story
By Abraham Verghese
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679752929, 448pp.)
Publication Date: April 25, 1995
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Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, the town of Johnson City had always seemed exempt from the anxieties of modern American life. But when the local hospital treated its first AIDS patient, a crisis that had once seemed an “urban problem” had arrived in the town to stay.
Working in Johnson City was Abraham Verghese, a young Indian doctor specializing in infectious diseases. Dr. Verghese became by necessity the local AIDS expert, soon besieged by a shocking number of male and female patients whose stories came to occupy his mind, and even take over his life. Verghese brought a singular perspective to Johnson City: as a doctor unique in his abilities; as an outsider who could talk to people suspicious of local practitioners; above all, as a writer of grace and compassion who saw that what was happening in this conservative community was both a medical and a spiritual emergency.
Out of his experience comes a startling but ultimately uplifting portrait of the American heartland as it confronts—and surmounts—its deepest prejudices and fears.
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
“A fine mix of compassion and precision.... Verghese makes indelible narratives of his cases, and they read like wrenching short stories.”
—Pico Iyer, Time
“A richly textured portrait of a small Southern town.... Immensely moving. In describing his own odyssey as a healer, Verghese displays rare candor and eloquence.”
“Memorable.... Fascinating. We come away from My Own Country with an abiding admiration for the good and compassionate work Dr. Verghese has conducted.”
—Michael Dorris, Los Angeles Times
“Remarkable.... An account of the plague years in America. Beautifully written, fascinating and tragic, by a doctor who was changed and shaped by his patients.”
—Perri Klass, The New York Times Book Review