Medical Maladies | Haris Qadeer | Book Review

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Book Title – Medical Maladies: Stories of Disease and Cure from Indian Languages

Medical Maladies

Edited and curated by Haris Qadeer

Genre – Anthology , Medical , Short stories

Price –  Rs 495/- for Paperback , in soft cover binding

Rs 287.85 for the Kindle edition

Publisher  – Niyogi books 

About Haris Qadeer

Haris Qadeer is a Professor of English  literature in Delhi University . He has been a Visiting Fellow in the Department of English, Potsdam University, Germany and in King’s College, London. His areas of interest are  Refugee Narratives, Medical Humanities and Literatures and Cultures of South Asian Muslims. His work includes journals , translations and book reviews that relate to his areas of interest.

About The Book – Medical Maladies

The book “Medical Maladies” is a ground breaking anthology comprising of  19 stories. The stories include translations in English from our very own Indian languages like Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Kashmiri, Marathi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Odia, and Urdu, showing the diversity of medical cultures in India. A wide range of themes and subjects are covered in thought-provoking and captivating stories, covering, among others, the personal and societal crises that arise during epidemics, quarantine, medical pluralism, patient care, medical paternalism, disease-mongering, medicalization, and the subject of medical ethics.

This interesting collection presents new perspectives on the relationship between medicine and literature. The introduction By Haris Qadeer dwells into the  relationship of humanity and the world of medicine. Further how perspectives and goals of treatment changed with the evolution of science. How corporatization and the pressure from pharma companies affects decision making at patient level. The author  highlights the need of the hour , where the patient gets to have  say or have an opinion on how he or she wants to be treated, what afflicts the world of medicine and hospitals and how both Humanity and Medicine could benefit from each other more benevolently.

Medical Pluralism and Humanities 

The stories portray both modern medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and surgeons as well as conventional practitioners like Vaids, Hakims, Kavirajs, and folk healers, while illuminating  upon a variety of illnesses, the process of healing, and related issues in India. A number of the stories  focus on  women’s  health  including depression, pregnancy, abortion, underage pregnancy, childbirth. The stories also underline female feticide and how a woman has no control over her fertility and the decision to abort or not to abort.

Personally, I was delighted  to revisit celebrated works of  famous Indian authors like Rabindranath Tagore, Munshi Premchand, and Sadat Hasan Manto, as well as discover the writings of relatively modern authors like Annie Zaidi and Jeelani Bano. Alongside, the book “Medical maladies”  also has interesting accounts of the medical world by medical  professionals  like  Rashid Jahan and Shirin Shrikant Valavade.

You will find that some stories are very relatable like “Quarantine ” even though they date back to the Great Indian Plague in 1994 because of our recent experience of the pandemic, quarantine and isolation. While some stories in the book  “Medical maladies ” are grim , some have a happy ending and a thoroughly witty account for instance the story of Nando Babu in ‘A Crisis of Medical Treatment”.


To sum up , the book ” Medical Maladies” is a fantastic compilation of short stories that are a not just a  social commentary on disease and cures, the doctor-patient relationships, and the sickness that prevails not only among the ill but in the world of medicine too. It has stories of undying hope, of dedication and grit and rising above all odds like Bhago  in  “Quarantine”, and despair  like in “Manzoor ” by Manto. Most of the stories are like  shining gems from the literary world, bound together by a common theme of medical anthropology and humanities.

I give it a 5/5 rating.

This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program 

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla
in collaboration with Monidipa Dutta.


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