On Sale NOW
“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.
Praise & Reviews
“To say that the practice of palliative care comes to vivid life in Sunita Puri’s pages may seem like a bad choice of words. But her memoir about tending to seriously, often incurably, sick people pulls off that feat…Allergic to sanctimony, she deals in visceral, and lyrical, details…Puri the doctor knows that masterful control isn’t the point. For Puri the writer, her prose proves that it is.”
—Ann Hulbert, literary editor of The Atlantic
“Doctors are supposed to preserve and prolong life, writes Puri (Keck Hosp., Norris Cancer Ctr., Univ. of Southern California), but what if a patient no longer wants to continuing living in pain? In this moving memoir, the author intertwines her parents’ story of emigrating from India to the United States with her own journey of being a young doctor in a young medical specialty—palliative medicine, or quality of life for those with serious, often incurable, illnesses. Inspired by her mom’s career as an anesthesiologist, Puri attended medical school and unexpectedly became drawn to medicine’s gray areas and the silence around mortality. As she moves from a medical residency in San Francisco to a home-based palliative care unit in Los Angeles, Puri describes the emotional toll of communicating hopeful or hopeless news, especially to women experiencing pain at all ages, and the uncertainty of what it means to “get better.” Puri’s writing shines when it’s most personal; considering the intersection between spirituality and science, and seeing people turn to or away from faith in times of illness. VERDICT An affecting read about the limits of medicine and embracing that which is beyond one’s control. The stories of Puri’s patients and their families will resonate with readers.”
—Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal, Starred Review
“Puri hits the ground running with an impressive debut…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 (2014).
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
“Honest and brutal, Sunita Puri’s book is also beautiful and deeply reassuring..Her work, which she says is “in the borderland between life and death,” will change how you see mortality and end-of-life decisions, and how you discuss these subjects with loved ones.”
—Kathryn Drury Wagner, Spirituality and Health
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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)