The writer’s advice to his son on the race politics in US. On what does it mean to be black in this country. The fear of fathers of their sons getting hurt by police that is hopelessly prejudiced, the streets where one wrong move can mean death, the ghettoing of an entire race. Coates writes with a visceral lucidity that brings these stark realities to the fore. It makes you think and take a second look at the continuous divide that is not going away anytime soon. Sadly, Coates doesn’t offer a solution. Even though his anger at decades of slavery and his bitterness towards ‘the dreamers’ is justified, at the end you are left looking for an answer.
Recommendation: Read for a quick course on race relations in US.
‘When Breath Becomes Air’ is the true story of a budding neurosurgeon and writer who, at the age of thirty six, finds that he has cancer and has limited time in the world. Paul started writing this book when he found he had cancer and even though he wrote at a furious pace, he didn’t get to complete the book. Yet, the book has an ending that seems to do justice to the book. His pursuit of understanding the meaning of life through literature and then science can, at times, be a little dry. But the graph of his life is captivating indeed. How do you deal with imminent death just when the best part of your life has started to unfold. He makes brave, optimistic choices – his wife and he decide to have a baby, he completes his really demanding residency and he writes the book. His wife, Lucy Kalanithi’s epilog that describes the last couple of days of Paul’s life, his moments with his family, including his few-months old daughter made me cry.
Read, if the meaning of life, is important to you.