nys writers logo


Bookmark and ShareAnne Fadiman, photo by Matt ValentineAnne Fadiman


NYS Writers Institute, Friday, October 28, 2016
7:30 p.m. Interview/Discussion | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus

Anne Fadiman will discuss her National Book Critics Circle award-winning nonfiction book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1997), on Friday, October 28, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue on the University at Albany’s Downtown Campus. Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and UAlbany’s School of Public Health, as part of “The New Americans: Recent Immigrant Experiences in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Film,” a series examining the experiences of recent immigrant groups in the United States, the challenges they face, and their contributions and achievements. 



Anne Fadiman, Francis Writer in Residence at Yale University and member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, is the author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1997), which The Washington Post Book World called a “superb, informal cultural anthropology—eye-opening, readable, and utterly engaging.” Fadiman’s book reflects on the clash between Western medicine and the holistic healing traditions of a Hmong refugee family from L aos over the care of their epileptic child.  The book received critical acclaim, became a bestseller, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and claimed the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest as well as the Salon Book Award.

The Spirit Cathces YouThe Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down also received praise from the medical community and has been credited with helping to change the way healthcare providers interact with patients from other cultures. According to Perri Klass, M.D. and author of A Not Entirely Benign Procedure, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down “changed how doctors see themselves and how they see their patients.”  Klass further credited Anne Fadiman for celebrating “the complexity and the individuality of the human interactions that make up the practice of medicine while simultaneously pointing out directions for change and breaking readers’ hearts with the tragedies of cultural displacement, medical limitations, and futile good intentions.”  Echoing this praise is Dr. Sherwin Nuland who, writing for The New Republic said that Fadiman had produced a “fine, textured study of an immigrant family’s struggle with American doctoring,” which articulated “the single most fundamental source of contention between today’s medical establishment and those who entrust themselves to its care.”

Anne FadimanA recipient of National Magazine Awards for her reporting and essays, Fadiman is also renowned for her personal essay writing.  In her first book of essays, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (1998) she applied what Kirkus Review praised as her “sparkling sense of story” to tell more intimate tales in this collection of “personal essays about books and book loving.” Reviewing Ex Libris for The New York Times online, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt celebrated Fadiman’s ability to animate “little problems people who care for books would be unlikely to think about systematically, let alone discuss with other readers and writers.” As an example Lehmann-Haupt cites the essay “Marrying Libraries,” in which Fadiman “explains how she and her husband, also a writer, became truly wed only when, after much sorting, categorizing and compromising, they had merged their book collections.”

Fadiman is also the author of the essay collection, At Large and at Small: Familiar Essays (2007), in which she draws readers into twelve of her personal obsessions. Publishers Weekly called the collection “a perfectly faceted little gem.”

“The New Americans: Recent Immigrant Experiences in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Film” series is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute with funding support provided by University Auxiliary Services, and UAlbany’s College of Arts & Sciences, School of Public Health, and English Department

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst