Synopses & Reviews
Cancer can kill: this fact makes it concrete. Still, its a devious knave. Nearly every American will experience it up-close and all too personally, wondering why the billions of research dollars thrown at the word havent exterminated it from the English language.
Like a sapper diffusing a bomb, Jain unscrambles the emotional, bureaucratic, medical, and scientific tropes that create the thing we call cancer.
Scientists debate even the most basic facts about the disease, while endlessly generated, disputed, population data produce the appearance of knowledge.
Jain takes the vacuum at the center of cancer seriously and demonstrates the need to understand cancer as a set of relationshipseconomic, sentimental, medical, personal, ethical, institutional, statistical.
Malignant analyzes the peculiar authority of the socio-sexual psychopathologies of body parts; the uneven effects of expertise and power; the potentially cancerous consequences of medical procedures such as IVF; the huge industrial investments that manifest themselves as bone-cold testing rooms; the legal mess of medical malpractice law; and the teeth-grittingly jovial efforts to smear makeup and wigs over the whole messy problem of bodies spiraling into pain and decay.
Malignant examines the painful cognitive dissonances produced by the ways a culture that has relished dazzling success in every conceivable arena have twisted one of its staunchest failures into an economic triumph. The intractable foil to American achievement, cancer hands us -- on a silver platter and ready for Jains incisively original dissection -- our sacrifice to the American Dream.
"Brilliant and disturbing." Barbara Kiser
"Brilliant." Barbara Kiser
"A whip-smart read." Nature
"A dark journey into cancer as it is understood, diagnosed and treated in America today." Becky Lang - Discover
"The book effortlessly combines the authors roles as a first-person participant in cancer diagnosis and an anthropological authority on why we Americans tolerate high rates of cancer."
"Dr. Jain's unique perspective on cancer -- blending her personal experience with her training as ethnographer and anthropologist -- results in a memorable exploration of what malignancy means in our culture. I found myself entertained, informed, surprised and ultimately transformed by this wonderful narrative." --Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
Nearly half of all Americans will be diagnosed with an invasive cancerand#151;an all-too ordinary aspect of daily life. Through a powerful combination of cultural analysis and memoir, this stunningly original book explores why cancer remains so confounding, despite the billions of dollars spent in the search for a cure. Amidst furious debates over its causes and treatments, scientists generate reams of dataand#151;information that ultimately obscures as much as it clarifies. Award-winning anthropologist S. Lochlann Jain deftly unscrambles the high stakes of the resulting confusion. Expertly reading across a range of material that includes history, oncology, law, economics, and literature, Jain explains how a national culture that simultaneously aims to deny, profit from, and cure cancer entraps us in a state of paradoxand#151;one that makes the world of cancer virtually impossible to navigate for doctors, patients, caretakers, and policy makers alike. This chronicle, burning with urgency and substance leavened with brio and wit, offers a lucid guide to understanding and navigating the quicksand of uncertainty at the heart of cancer. Malignant vitally shifts the terms of an epic battle we have been losing for decades: the war on cancer.
"The writing is marvelous and the scholarship is incredible -- but you aren't prepared for the disarming humor, or the delicate dissection of the psyche that Jain achieves. I could not stop reading this book."
and#150; Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of Emperor of All Maladies, Pulitzer Prize Winner
"Malignant is a beneficent book, a tough gift for all of us. Iand#151;weand#151;need this scholarly, angry, intimate, objective, smart, moving book that teaches us how to endure and even maybe thrive in the and#145;rubble.and#8217;"
-- Donna Haraway, author of Simians, Cyborgs, and Women
"Malignant is the most important book about cancer in decades.and#160; Lochlann Jain brilliantly compels us to look straight into its metastases and cultural malignancies.and#160; In cancer's claws we find, not just the limits of existence, but also a poetics of resistance."
-- Jonathan Metzl MD, PhD, author of The Protest Psychosis
and#147;I found myself entertained, informed, surprised and ultimately transformed by this wonderful narrative.and#8221;
-- Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
About the Author
S. Lochlann Jain is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University and author of Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States.
Table of Contents
Introduction: We Just Donand#8217;t Know It Yet
1. Living in Prognosis: The Firing Squad of Statistics
2. Poker Face: Gaming a Lifespan
3. Cancer Butch: Trip Up the Fast Lane
4. Lost Chance: Medical Mistakes
5. The Mortality Effect: The Future in Cancer Trials
6. Inconceivable: Where IVF Goes Bad
7. Can Sir: What Screening Doesnand#8217;t Do
8. Fallout: Minuets in the Key of Fear
9. Rubble: Bakelite Bodies