The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Topics: Hmong people, Hmong customs and culture, Hmong American Pages: 419 (134140 words) Published: November 5, 2012
Praise for

The Spirit Catches You and You
Fall Down
“Fadiman describes with extraordinary skill the colliding worlds of Western medicine and Hmong culture.”
—The New Yorker
“This fine book recounts a poignant tragedy…It has no heroes or villains, but it has an abundance of innocent suffering, and it most certainly does have a moral…[A] sad, excellent book.” —Melvin Konner, The New York Times Book Review

“An intriguing, spirit-lifting, extraordinary exploration of two cultures in uneasy coexistence…A wonderful aspect of Fadiman’s book is her even-handed, detailed presentation of these disparate cultures and divergent views—not with cool, dispassionate fairness but rather with a warm, involved interest that sees and embraces both sides of each issue…Superb, informal cultural anthropology—eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging.”

—Carole Horn, The Washington Post Book World
“This is a book that should be deeply disturbing to anyone who has given so much as a moment’s thought to the state of American medicine. But it is much more…People are presented as [Fadiman] saw them, in their humility and their frailty—and their nobility.”

—Sherwin B. Nuland, The New Republic


“Anne Fadiman’s phenomenal first book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, brings to life the enduring power of parental love in an impoverished refugee family struggling to protect their seriously ill infant daughter and ancient spiritual traditions from the tyranny of welfare bureaucrats and intolerant medical

—Al Santoli, The Washington Times
“A unique anthropological study of American society.”
—Louise Steinman, Los Angeles Times
“Some writers…have done exceedingly well at taking in one or another human scene, then conveying it to others—James Agee, for instance…and George Orwell…It is in such company that Anne Fadiman’s writing belongs.”

—Robert Coles, Commonweal
“When the Lees hedged their bets in 1982 in Merced by taking Lia to the hospital after one of her seizures, everybody lost. Fadiman’s account of why Lia failed to benefit over the years from Western medicine is a compelling story told in achingly beautiful prose.”

—Steve Weinberg, Chicago Tribune
“A deeply humane anthropological document written with the grace of a lyric and the suspense of a thriller.”
—Abby Frucht, Newsday
“Fadiman’s meticulously researched nonfiction book exudes passion and humanity without casting a disparaging eye at either the immigrant parents, who don’t speak English, or the frustrated doctors who can’t decipher the baby’s symptoms…The Spirit


Catches You and You Fall Down conveys one family’s story in a balanced, compelling way.”
—Jae-Ha Kim, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Fadiman’s sensitive reporting explores a vast cultural gap.” —People Magazine
“Compellingly written, from the heart and from the trenches. I couldn’t wait to finish it, then reread it and ponder it again. It is a powerful case study of a medical tragedy.”
—David H. Mark, Journal of the American Medical Association “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is Fadiman’s haunting account, written over a nine-year period, of one very sick girl in Merced, California…What happens to Lia Lee is both enlightening and deeply disturbing.” —Kristin Van Ogtrop, Vogue

“Fadiman gives us a narrative as compelling as any thriller, a work populated by the large cast of characters who fall in love with Lia. This is a work of passionate advocacy, urging our medical establishment to consider how their immigrant patients conceptualize health and disease. This astonishing book helps us better understand our own culture even as we learn about another—and changes our deepest beliefs about the mysterious relationship between body and soul.” —Elle

“The other day, I picked up a book I had no intention of buying. Eight hours later, having lifted my head only long enough to pay for the book and drive home, I closed Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall...

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