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This Narrow Space

Nonfiction: Autobiography & Memoir
Unabridged   8.75 hour(s)
Publication date: 01/30/2018

This Narrow Space

A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital in Jerusalem

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684410002
Digital Download ISBN:9781684410019


This Narrow Space is Elisha Waldman's deeply affecting and poignant memoir of the seven years he spent taking care of children—Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians; Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza—with one devastating thing in common: they had all been diagnosed with some form of pediatric cancer.

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Product Description

Waldman's years at Hadassah were filled in equal measure with a deep sense of accomplishment, with frustration when regional politics sometimes got in the way of his patients' care, and with tension over the fine line he would have to walk when the religious traditions of some of his patients' families made it difficult for him to give these children the care he felt they deserved. Navigating the baffling Israeli bureaucracy, the ever-present threat of war, and the cultural clashes that sometimes spilled over into his clinic, Waldman learned to be content with small victories: a young patient whose disease went into remission, brokenhearted parents whose final hours with their child were made meaningful and comforting.

As he sought to create both a personal and a professional life in his new home, Waldman struggled with his own questions of identity and belief, and with the intractable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that had become a fact of his daily life. What he learned about himself, about the complex country that he was now a part of, and about the heartbreakingly brave and endearing children he cared for—whether they were from Me’ah She’arim, Ramallah, or Gaza City—will move and challenge readers everywhere.


“Can you truly be compassionate when external circumstances create walls that cannot be broken or scaled no matter how hard you try? This seems to be the central question in Waldman’s fantastic book. . . . He shows great honesty as he explores his own reactions to Palestinian patients and the incongruity of serving as an Israeli Army medic during Operation Cast Lead while simultaneously treating cancer patients from Gaza. [He also] exhibits a rare self-awareness, avoiding the ‘Middle-East-splaining’ that often accompanies stories from the region.” —Uzodinma Iweala, The New York Times Book Review

"In his engrossing debut memoir, an American pediatric oncologist faces medical, personal, and cultural challenges during seven years as attending physician at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center, where his young patients include Israeli Jews and Arabs, and Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. . . . Besides offering warm portraits of the children he treated and their distraught families, Waldman chronicles his transformation from a somewhat naïve, underprepared physician to one more politically and culturally astute. A candid and revealing portrait of a man and a nation in turmoil." —Kirkus Reviews

"This Narrow Space ushers in a new and important voice in the literature of medicine. This book will illuminate and inspire, as a young physician transits culture and beliefs in his search for meaning in some of life's most trying circumstances."—Dr. Jerome Groopman, professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness

Author Bio

Elisha Waldman is associate chief, division of pediatric palliative care, at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. He received his BA from Yale University and his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv. His writing has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review and the Hill.