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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

FSG Classics

Anne Fadiman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and the Salon Book Award, Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest.

______

Lia Lee 1982-2012


Lia Lee died on August 31, 2012. She was thirty years old and had been in a vegetative state since the age of four. Until the day of her death, her family cared for her lovingly at home.

National Book Critics Circle Award - Winner, L.A. Times Book Prize - Winner, Boston Book Review - Winner, National Book Critics Circle Awards Winner

THE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN (Chapter 1)Birth
If Lia Lee had been born in the highlands of northwest Laos, where her parents and twelve of her brothers and sisters were born, her mother would have squatted on the floor of the house...

Praise for The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

“Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different.” —Richard Berstein, The New York Times

“So good I want to somehow make it required reading...The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores issues of culture, immigration, medicine, and the war in [Laos] with such skill that it's nearly impossible to put down.” —Linnea Lannon, The Detroit Free Press

“This is a captivating riveting book--a must-read not only for medical professionals, anthropologists, and journalists, but for anyone interested in how to negotiate cultural difference in a shrinking world. Fadiman's ability to empathize with the resolutely independent Hmong as well as with the remarkable doctors, caseworkers, and officials of Merced County makes her narrative both richly textured and deeply illuminating. Sometimes the stakes here are multicultural harmony and understanding; sometimes they're literally life and death--whether in wartime Laos or in American emergency rooms. But whatever the stakes and wherever the setting, Fadiman's reporting is meticulous, and prose is a delight. From start to finish, a truly impressive achievement.” —Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It

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“Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different.” —Richard Berstein, The New York Times

“So good I want to somehow make it required reading...The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores issues of culture, immigration, medicine, and the war in [Laos] with such skill that it's nearly impossible to put down.” —Linnea Lannon, The Detroit Free Press

“This is a captivating riveting book--a must-read not only for medical professionals, anthropologists, and journalists, but for anyone interested in how to negotiate cultural difference in a shrinking world. Fadiman's ability to empathize with the resolutely independent Hmong as well as with the remarkable doctors, caseworkers, and officials of Merced County makes her narrative both richly textured and deeply illuminating. Sometimes the stakes here are multicultural harmony and understanding; sometimes they're literally life and death--whether in wartime Laos or in American emergency rooms. But whatever the stakes and wherever the setting, Fadiman's reporting is meticulous, and prose is a delight. From start to finish, a truly impressive achievement.” —Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It

- Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

Anne Fadiman

Anne Fadiman is the author of two essay collections, At Large and At Small and Ex Libris, and the editor of Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down received a National Book Critics Circle Award, an L.A. Times Book Prize, and a Salon Book Award. Her essays and articles have appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, among other publications. She is the Francis Writer-in-Residence at Yale.

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