Literature and Medicine

Tengo Sed: A Novel


James Fleming

Winner of the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction

The Trauma ICU of a Level 1 trauma center is the setting for this thought-provoking novel, which reveals the ruthlessness of medical education and practice. James Fleming recounts a day in the life of a resident in emergency medicine at an urban teaching hospital. The novel's title, which translates loosely as "I thirst,"" echoes the Christ of St. John. Tengo Sed's protagonist, however, known only as Hovercraft because he is "always around, always feeling on edge,"" is not a savior but a hapless resident with a tendency toward mysticism. Through Hovercraft's sleep-deprived eyes we see patients and their families, doctors, and nurses, and we share Hovercraft's increasingly nightmarish perceptions of a world in which things are not going right.

"The story is remarkably raw and honest, full of mystery instead of certainty, failure instead of success, and humanity instead of science.""-Frank Huyler, author of Right of Thirst

"A brutal and beautiful book. I read it straight through in one sitting, totally absorbed, deeply touched and frightened at the same time. The writing is taut, edgy, and original with not a wasted word . . . James Fleming has written a small, tough masterpiece.""-John Nichols, author of The Milagro Beanfield War

"Stripped-down, elemental, and willing to explore feelings of alienation and rebellion felt by a significant minority of medical students, interns, and residents.""-Paul Linde, author of Danger to Self: On the Front Line with an ER Psychiatrist


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

James Fleming is assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and an attending physician in the Emergency Department of the Veterans Administration hospital in Albuquerque.

ACCLAIM

"I read straight through all 130 pages then started over again with page 1. It is the best piece of medical literature I have read since Atul Gawande's Complications and one of the most insightful and strikingly original books I've read in years."

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helf Unbound



"Full of symbolism and humor, cynicism and wrath, ( Tengo Sed) kept me intrigued and beguiled. I truly enjoyed the book and its refreshing style of writing."

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Annals of Emergency Medicine




6 x 9 in. 144 pages