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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

by Anne Fadiman

Lia Lee was born in 1981 to a family of recent Hmong immigrants, and soon developed symptoms ofepilepsy.

  • Paperback
  • Pages: 341 pages
  • Average Rating: 4.14 out of 5
  • Published September 30th 1998 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Original Title: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child
  • Her American Doctors
  • and the Collision of Two Cultures
  • ISBN: 0374525641 (ISBN13: 9780374525644)
  • Edition Language: English
  • URL: Go To Website
  • Literary Awards: National Book Critics Circle Award (1997)

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Lia Lee was born in 1981 to a family of recent Hmong immigrants, and soon developed symptoms of epilepsy. By 1988 she was living at home but was brain dead after a tragic cycle of misunderstanding, over-medication, and culture clash: “What the doctors viewed as clinical efficiency the Hmong viewed as frosty arrogance.” The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions, written with the deepest of human feeling. Sherwin Nuland said of the account, “There are no villains in Fadiman’s tale, just as there are no heroes. People are presented as she saw them, in their humility and their frailty–and their nobility.”


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