TB: Can you tell me a bit about what the genesis of this book creatively for you and how you saw the weaving of its characters and themes as you set about writing it?Read the complete interview.
AV: So there were two things that came together for me. The one was I’ve always thought that the study of medicine—the appeal that an adolescent has for what they see as the great mystery of what people learn in medicine—I’ve always thought that had never been quite celebrated in a book as well as I would have enjoyed seeing it. I wanted to write about the sense a young boy has of the wonder of medicine and how it’s some secret ritual that if you could only learn it, it’s like buying X-ray spectacles and suddenly you could see through people.
TB: You very much gave me that feeling. It’s amazing how with some of the details you suddenly see the kind of X-ray vision into people’s bodies and how that must be like.
AV: Yeah, I always thought it extremely appealing. Then the second idea was the image of a nun giving birth in a mission hospital. You know, there’s something so attractive about nuns—we’re drawn to them, this idea of someone living their life wedded to Christ and all the sacrifice that comes with that.
TB: Did you know any nuns when you lived in Ethiopia? [read on]