The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Publication Date



Fadiman talked about the experience of writing her first book, "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures" (1997), which chronicles the trials of an epileptic Hmong child and her family living in Merced, California. Fadiman's sensitive, incisive treatment of the gulf between the Hmong and American cultures and medical systems won her a National Book Critic's Circle Award in 1997.

The author described cross-cultural challenges she faced, and lessons she learned about how American health care providers can provide more sensitive and effective care for patients from other cultures.

Fadiman is renowned as a columnist, editor and essayist. She edited The American Scholar, the venerable literary quarterly, described by The New York Times as "an intellectual giant." Her essays and articles have appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, among many other publications. Among her many awards are National Magazine Awards for both Reporting (1987) and Essays (2003). She is the inaugural Francis Writer in Residence at Yale University—the school's first endowed appointment in nonfiction writing. She serves as adjunct professor in the English department at Yale and as a mentor to students considering careers in writing or editing.


Anne Fadiman

President's Lecture Series

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