The Diagnosis

Finalist, National Book Awards 2000 for Fiction

The Diagnosis: A Novel by Alan Lightman, book cover
ISBN 9780679436157
Vintage | Alfred A. Knopf
Alan Lightman author photo
Alan Lightman

Alan Lightman is an American writer, physicist, and social entrepreneur. He received his PhD in theoretical physics in 1974. Since then, Lightman has done fundamental research on the astrophysics of black holes, astrophysical radiation processes, and stellar dynamics. More about this author >

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From the bestselling author of Einstein’s Dreams comes this harrowing tale of one man’s struggle to cope in a wired world, even as his own biological wiring short-circuits. As Boston’s Red Line shuttles Bill Chalmers to work one summer morning, something extraordinary happens. Suddenly, he can’t remember which stop is his, where he works, or even who he is. The only thing he can remember is his corporate motto: the maximum information in the minimum time.

Bill’s memory returns, but a strange numbness afflicts him. As he attempts to find a diagnosis for his deteriorating illness, he descends into a nightmarish tangle of inconclusive results, his company’s manic frenzy, and his family’s disbelief. Ultimately, Bill discovers that he is fighting not just for his body but also for his soul.