“Paralkar’s tragicomic imagination, sly sendup of pseudo-Latinate medical prose
and fine sense of irony make for an arresting read . . .
A haunting take on the ills of flesh and soul.”
– Kirkus Reviews

Shadowing an elderly librarian on his first day at the great Central Library, Máximo is thrilled to get a peek at the exclusive Encyclopedia of Medicine. It’s a dizzying collection of maladies: an amnesia that causes everyone you’ve ever met to forget you exist, while you remain perfectly, painfully aware of your history. A wound that grows with each dark thought or evil deed you commit but shrinks with every act of kindness. A disease that causes your body to imitate death, stopping your heart, cooling your blood. Will the fit pass before they bury you-or after? As Máximo soon discovers, medicine at the Central Library may be more than he bargained for. The Afflictions is a magical compendium of pseudo-diseases, an encyclopedia of archaic medicine written by a contemporary physician and scientist. Little by little, these bizarre and mystical afflictions frame an eternal struggle: between human desire and the limits of bodily existence.

United States




The Afflictions: Audiobook by Vikram Paralkar, narrated by Andrew Panebianco

"Paralkar...sketches these mythical misfortunes in brief, elegant entries written as if by a physician-philosopher, setting out the preposterous specifics of symptoms, diagnoses and treatments beside mock scholarly debates over etiology and final ruminations on existential import...Paralkar's tragicomic imagination, sly sendup of pseudo-Latinate medical prose and fine sense of irony make for an arresting read. A haunting take on the ills of flesh and soul."
"We are constantly invited to ponder the enormity of human experience and the sensation of transcendence, while acknowledging that the physical material from which we are made--and from which we both suffer and rejoice--cannot be severed from our sense of self... The Afflictions is a partnership between author and audience, which takes on a life of its own in spite of and because of disease's closest intimate: death."

“The beauty of The Afflictions comes from the fact that it is an unabashedly entertaining narrative that revels in weirdness and impossibility while also packing a much more profound layer in which Paralkar explores the frailty, failures, and absurdity of human nature . . . Vikram Paralkar is a talented author with a knack for the fantastic. He knows medicine, but it’s his understanding of the relationship between diseases and the human mind and spirit that make The Afflictions a great read.”
“Beautifully narrated, with Pythagorean Prose… Borgesian in style. The sentences are polished till the gleam... The Afflictions is not only the delicious fruit (hilarious at times) of an overflowing imagination, but it is also filled erudition. Paralkar trades in philosophy, history, anthropology and theology, among other disciplines… This is a book to devour with relish.”

"Paralkar shares with Borges a collector's delight in details. One can practically feel Paralkar luxuriating in the task... The Afflictions returns us to the idea of the essential interconnectedness of mind and body, that our faculties of memory, of language, of morality, of love, are no less real and necessary to survival than the organs of the heart or kidney or lungs."
"The imagined text on which The Afflictions is based - The Encyclopedia Medicinae - is written as though it were lifted directly out of the Age of Enlightenment, when science and religion were still easy bedfellows."

“Marks the birth of a fiction writer who must be followed closely.”
Selva Florence Manzur
“The whole book has a deeply Borgesian air.”
Paralkar’s, The Afflictions, has a similar sense of imagination, description, and brisk metaphysical commentary" than that of "Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings or Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities." Paralkar also has qualifications that these other fabulists did not. He’s a physician-scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who spends much of his time studying leukemia and its cures. I’m fascinated that anyone can make the leap between writing for The New England Journal of Medicine and something like The Afflictions, and I look forward to reading more of his fiction.