What is Suprose?

Welcome to Suprose.

Why Su-prose? "Su" in Sanskrit is a prefix for "good". This is a place where we will discuss and analyze prose (with a South Asian Connection) - that which is good, awesome, excellent, and maybe rant about prose that could be better.

Whether you love prose, are a prose expert, or want to learn more about prose, or to put it simply want to have anything to do with prose, this blog is for you.

Read, interact, enjoy and share...

Search This Blog

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Girls of Riyadh --Modern women in a traditional world…

Originally released in Arabic in 2005, the novel Girls of Riyadh or Banat al-Riyadh, was immediately banned in Saudi Arabia due to controversial and inflammatory content. Black-market copies of the novel circulated and the daring originality of Girls of Riyadh continues to create a firestorm all over the Arab world and has been a bestseller across much of the Middle East.
Girls of Riyadh is a novel that narrates the love stories of four young Saudi girls, Lamees, Michelle (half Saudi, half American), Gamrah, and Sadeem in the form of emails. This novel reveals the social, romantic, sexual adventures and tribulations of these four young women from the elite classes of Riyadh.
Every week, after Friday prayers, an anonymous female narrator sends an email to the subscribers of her online chat group. The novel unfolds in 50 such emails spanning over a year. The world that these four women inhabit is a modern one that contains flirting with boys at the mall, and this affluent contemporary existence causes the girls to collide endlessly with the customs of a culture rooted firmly in an ancient way of life.
Thus it is no surprise that this novel caused an uproar. This is the story of women who negotiate their love lives, professional successes, and rebellions large and small against the strict traditions of their society. This novel represents the mongrel culture of a globalized world, reflecting the way in which the Arab world is being changed by new economic and political realities. Even though the novel is set in Riyadh the characters travel all over the world shedding traditional garb as they cross over into western society.
These are women who have embraced modern culture and way of thought, as did the author of this novel. Rajaa Alsanea grew up in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the daughter of a family of doctors. She currently lives in Chicago where she is a dental graduate student. She is twenty-five years old and this is her first novel.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Initiated Doctor Reminisces

Sanjay Gupta, Atul Gawande and Sandeep Jauhar - What do they have in common? They are all ambivalent doctors with a passion for media and communications. Dr. Gupta is a neurosurgeon with a published book under his belt, a glamorous reporting job with CNN, and a generous female fan following, Dr. Gawande is a sought after surgeon and a renowned writer and author of many popular non-fiction books pertaining to the medical field.
Another one to join this growing clan of doctors, is Dr. Jauhar, a thriving cardiologist and the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, also a medical journalist. Since 1998, he has been writing regularly about medicine for the New York Times. His writing has also been published in Reader's Digest, Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, and he has appeared on CNN, CNN Headline News and National Public Radio. Dr. Jauhar’s memoir “Intern: A Doctors Initiation” published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (December 26, 2007), is a refreshing look at the alluring and lucrative medical profession.
This memoir is Dr. Sandeep Jauhar’s story of his days and nights in residency at a busy hospital in New York City, a trial that led him to question every assumption about medical care today. Residency—and especially the first year, called internship—is legendary for its brutality. Working eighty hours or more per week, most new doctors spend their first year asking themselves why they wanted to be doctors in the first place. This book is also a love story of sorts and more significantly the story of an immigrant family with strong cultural traditions and modern ambitions.
Like many others, Jauhar’s parents were also distressed when Jauhar earned his PhD in Physics from the University of California in Berkeley, with thoughts of becoming a lawyer, academic or writer. For them these were not lucrative professions. They should have been relieved when he answered his calling and decided to become a cardiologist, yet they were concerned about him “changing horses in the middle of the stream.” Jauhar was determined. For him, “Physics was an enterprise of reflection, ideas. Medicine was an endeavor of prescription, of action. Becoming a doctor, I hoped, would bring me back into the real world. It would make me into a man.”
Jauhar’s internship was even more harrowing than most: he switched from physics to medicine in order to follow a more humane calling—only to find that medicine put patients’ concerns last. He struggled to find a place among squadrons of cocky residents and doctors. He challenged the practices of the internship in The New York Times, attracting the suspicions of the medical bureaucracy. Then, suddenly stricken, he became a patient himself—and came to see that today’s high-tech, high-pressure medicine can be a humane science after all.
“I was an Intern a decade ago, but I still remember it the way soldiers remember war,” writes Jauhar in his memoir, recounting the first year of his medical residency – navigating the pitfalls of nights on call, calling codes, informed consent, treating depression other than his own, and generally coping with patients so exhausted, frustrated and scared that patients and doctor alike just want to go home.
Jauhar writes with dexterity about various incidents, cases, medical staff and patients he encountered during his residency years. These little stories, spice up the otherwise bland subject of medical residency, making it interesting to a non-medical reader. These incidents also elucidate the difficult lives of doctors, whom many forget are also human beings who need to train themselves very hard to be emotionally detached from their patients in order to be rational and provide better service.
This is a profession that is physically demanding as well, especially with the nightfloats and the on call schedules running into a continuous 36-hour stretch. “On call nights, the ward was like a sleeping village, and you were the night watchman on patrol with your penlight and stethoscope,” muses Jauhar, “Sometimes I worried about how I was going to get through another night on call, until I realized that my patients were helping me. Their bodies had the homeostatic reserve, the capacity to self correct, to compensate for my mistakes.”
After struggling with the difficulties surrounding the internship, Jauhar gradually arrives at a curve in the road, “The month long rotation in the ICU was a turning point. Like a phase transition, the transformation was almost imperceptible, yet the results were striking. When I got back to the wards I discovered a level of comfort I could never have imagined as an intern, or even early on in my second year.”
He successfully endures the rigors of his residency and is near the end when he looks back at his experience. “What a strange experiment I had conducted! Bailing out of a promising physics career in my mid-twenties to go to medical school. And then a clinical residency in internal medicine when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a doctor. It had been a foolhardy mission, and yet it occurred to me that I would do it all over again,” reminisces Jauhar.
With it’s many case histories full of vivid detail, many of them quite gory, this book is an interesting read for all lovers of the hit NBC show ER, and for that matter anyone who is interested in the trials and tribulations in the life of a doctor.

Reviewed by Visi Tilak