This anthology of poems, short stories, and essays derives from the literary magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, which began publication in 2001. The editor of the magazine and her staff have selected what they consider to be the best literary pieces from the Review's first 6-7 years of publication. Like its parent magazine, the anthology focuses on work that addresses the illness experience, health, healing, and the experiences of health care professionals and other caregivers. The anthology is divided into three parts, each of which has several subsections. Part I, "Initiation," looks at patients' introduction to illness and introduction of doctors to medical education and medical practice. Part II, "Conflict: Grappling with Illness," divides into sections on disability, coping, madness, connections, and family. Part III: "Denouement," addresses mortality, death, loss, and aftermath.

Among the 81 authors represented, seven are physicians, and another half dozen or so are in other caregiving professions such as nursing, social work, counseling. Some writers are well recognized in the literary world (for example James Tate, Amy Hempel, Alicia Ostriker, Rachel Hadas, Sharon Olds, Philip Levine, Floyd Skloot, Julia Alvarez, David Lehman, Rafael Campo, and Abraham Verghese -- the latter two are physicians); most of the less well-known others have published in a variety of venues.


This will be a useful anthology for those who are beginning the venture of using imaginative literature to address issues of illness and health, disability, death and dying from the perspective of patients, family, and caregivers. The quality of the entries ranges from outstanding to good. The focus is on contemporary writing and contemporary experience. The editors are interested in having this anthology used in the training of health care students and professionals, as well as among general reading groups and others. To this end they have laboriously compiled a 39-page study guide that is available online at no cost ( For each individual anthology entry, the guide includes a list of questions and topic headings. While the anthology of course attempts to promote The Bellevue Literary Review, it has been thoughtfully conceptualized and constructed. One caveat, however, is that the works are nowhere identified by genre, which would have been helpful to users as they selected material for study. Although poems can be identified by their format on the page, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction is not always obvious--these distinctions can be important.


Introduction by physician-author Sherwin B. Nuland.


Bellevue Literary Press

Place Published

New York




Danielle Ofri & the staff of the Bellevue Literary Review

Page Count