Synopses & Reviews
“Spiritually grounded, poetic, and brilliant…Puri has claimed her place in the ranks of illustrious physician-writers.” — Katy Butler, author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door
As the American born daughter of immigrants, Dr. Sunita Puri knew from a young age that the gulf between her parents’ experiences and her own was impossible to bridge, save for two elements: medicine and spirituality. Between days spent waiting for her mother, an anesthesiologist, to exit the OR, and evenings spent in conversation with her parents about their faith, Puri witnessed the tension between medicine’s impulse to preserve life at all costs and a spiritual embrace of life’s temporality. And it was that tension that eventually drew Puri, a passionate but unsatisfied medical student, to palliative medicine — a new specialty attempting to translate the border between medical intervention and quality-of-life care.
Interweaving evocative stories of Puri’s family and the patients she cares for, That Good Night is a stunning meditation on impermanence and the role of medicine in helping us to live and die well, arming readers with information that will transform how we communicate with our doctors about what matters most to us.
“The face of the new generation of physicians, Dr. Sunita Puri’s book reflects the art and craft of practicing medicine. There’s no harder diagnosis to process than a fatal illness, and when it happens you need a doctor with the space, time, and desire to extend empathy. Without that, it doesn’t matter what we mandate, legislate, propose or discuss. With that, Dr. Puri implicitly suggests, we can find out what our patients need to make their dying — and so also their living — easier, better, richer.” Victoria Sweet, author of Slow Medicine and God’s Hotel
“A profound meditation on a problem many of us will face; worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.” Kirkus (starred review)
“Recognizing the complementary paths of science and spirituality, [Puri draws] upon the strength, support, and wisdom of her family’s beliefs and values — honoring life and accepting death — to help her patients make ‘eleventh-hour’ choices….This is a powerful memoir, which Puri narrates with honesty, poise, and empathy.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“That Good Night is a timely and important work: an insider’s view of caring for the sickest patients and a moving exploration of life’s impermanence. Sunita Puri’s deft attention to language, both in her writing and in her work as a doctor, is a testament to the power of story, narrative, and context to help us make sense of life and its end.” Lucy Kalanithi, MD, widow of Paul Kalanithi, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book When Breath Becomes Air
“Rich with piercing insights about life and death in modern medicine, Dr. Sunita Puri’s memoir braids together beautifully written narratives of her patients with her quest to understand her place in her family and her path as a doctor.” Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible
“With exquisite prose, keen insight, and endless intellectual curiosity, Puri shows us the ways that dying is woven into living and, as such, deserves not just acceptance but close attention, deep respect, even celebration. This is a lively and fascinating book that will be a crucial part of the expanding cultural conversation about how we think about death. Everyone alive should read it.” Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable
“Visceral and lyrical…In a high-tech world, [Puri’s] specialty is not cures, but questions — about pain, about fraught prospects, about what ‘miracle’ might really mean. Her tool is language, verbal and physical. Wielding carefully measured words, can she guide but not presume to dictate? Heeding the body’s signals, not just beeping monitors, can she distinguish between a fixable malady and impending death? Puri the doctor knows that masterful control isn’t the point. For Puri the writer, her prose proves that it is.” The Atlantic
About the Author
Sunita Puri is an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California, and medical director of palliative medicine at the Keck Hospital and Norris Cancer Center. She has published essays in The New York Times, Slate, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and JAMA-Internal Medicine. She lives in Los Angeles.