Book review: When Breath Becomes Air

THE line between life and death has never been explored quite so personally as in Paul Kalanithi’s wrenching memoir. 

Paul Kalanithi

Bodley Head, €16.75;

ebook, €12.24

Its opening casts the shadow: Paul and wife Lucy, clutching one another on a hospital bed following his diagnosis with terminal lung cancer at 36.

In lucid prose, Paul explains his shift from English degree to neurosurgery — a conscious search for life’s meaning, an irony not lost on him — and subsequent lessons learned either side of the doctor/patient divide.

The life of a junior neurosurgeon is gripping and relentless: Paul struggles with the pastoral more than the procedural, gradually accepting his primary role of helping patients and families to acknowledge their circumstances.

When his illness catches up with him, Paul explores his condition and altered self-definition with impossible grace — is he a doctor? husband? — probing until the last. 

The final pages are moving, humble, and impossible to ignore.


This season textiles trend large, full of colour and exotic pattern, and applied in new ways to make a personal design statement from the living room to the bedroom, writes Carol O’CallaghanTextile trends that can help you make a personal design statement

If you haven’t heard of facial oils or thought they weren’t for you, please, please, please don’t be cross with me for introducing you.The Skin Nerd: Slippery skin? Facial oil could be for you, I swear!

“If you look at the turmoil in the world today, whether it’s climate change, the MeToo movement or Black Lives Matter, there is so much to say that you wonder where to begin,” says iconic British artist, ChilaKumari Singh Burman.Creative culture clash

In some parts of Ireland, the word ‘deadly’ means excellent. We couldn’t have known how good Deadly Premonition was going to be. In fact, no one had this premonition back in 2010GameTech: One of the oddest games ever

More From The Irish Examiner