Famed Authors to Come to Weill Cornell for Annual Readers and Writers Series
E. L. Doctorow. Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. Woody Allen.
Some of the most celebrated authors are making cameos at Weill Cornell Medical College this academic year as part of the Readers and Writers series, now in its second year. The words these writers utter during their appearances, the pauses for dramatic effect, provide medical students insight into the humanities and the human condition.
"These famous writers' works expose the medical students to a wide, vivid array of human stories which, I hope, serves to balance the intense focus on narratives of illness during their training," said Dr. Anna Fels, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell and founder of the Readers and Writers series.
Doctorow kicked off this year's series in October by reading the short story "Edgemont Drive," included in his most recent book, a collection of short stories titled, "All the Time in the World." The story, previously published in the New Yorker, is about the impact an encounter with a stranger has on the lives of a conventional family living in the suburbs.
Doctorow is a Bronx native whose novel, "Ragtime," which blends fictional and actual historical figures — J.P. Morgan, Harry Houdini, Booker T. Washington — into a framework revolving around significant events, characters and ideas in American history, was lauded as a masterpiece that launched him into the upper echelons of American writers. The novel was later adapted for a 1981 movie and 1998 musical. After his reading, he fielded students' questions on his process of writing for 45 minutes.
Coming up in February is a talk by Dr. Mukherjee, an Indian American physician, scientist and writer whose 2010 book, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer," won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Guardian Prize and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.And in April, Weill Cornell will welcome famed screenwriter, stand-up comic and director Woody Allen, who penned short stories and plays published in four collections. A selection of 73 short stories released in audio book format on iTunes was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
"I hope that seeing and hearing and getting to talk with these well-known writers is also fun for the students — a welcome break from the rigors of studying," Dr. Fels said.
Weill Cornell Medical College will welcome Dr. Mukherjee on Feb. 12, and Woody Allen on April 9.