Award-winning author coming to Gwinnett

DULUTH -- The Gwinnett County Public Library will host New York Times best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, who will be reading excerpts from his novel "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" at the Gwinnett Center Thursday night as part of the Fall Into the Arts campaign.

The book is a biography about cancer which looks into the history and origins of the disease. He became interested in the topic when he was a cell biologist studying lymph nodes under a microscope, then met people who were suffering from the disease. It changed his thinking about cancer.

"I went to medical school and encountered real patients," Mukherjee said. "It was a build up from the cellular disease to the human disease."

After years of studying immunology and oncology, he decided it was time to write a book to help those who want more information about cancer.

"I was surprised as a fellow that such a book didn't exist," he said. "I once had a female patient that wanted to fight (cancer), but she didn't know what she was battling."

For the novel, Mukherjee combined both the emotional and scientific aspects of the disease looking at cases in the past and talking about modern medicine and therapy for present patients. He has a wealth of knowledge on the topic, but Mukherjee still had trouble when it came to writing the book.

"The most difficult thing about writing this book was remembering things ... writing can get into bleak places," he said. "I didn't want to make (the experience) sound easy, but emotional honesty is difficult to do."

The audience won't know what will be read aloud at the library because Mukherjee likes to tailor the conversation to those listening.

"I want my readers to walk away with a deep empathy for this project ... Conscience down to the next level," Mukherjee said.

There will be books available for purchase, plus a signing. Admission is free to the public.