Well written… deals beautifully with perplexing ethical questions and simple decisions in daily life. Combines philosophy and medical ethics, with one story arising from multiple stories. Well worth reading…
Riding a Crocodile is a delightful novel to read. As a medical practitioner I could relate to all the characters and their experiences in the hospital life. I believe the book should be compulsory reading for all medical students and young doctors! They’d learn a lot about patients, the people behind the illness, the art of observation and reflection… I personally identified with the medical students, their awe and enthusiasm, the young doctors’ passion and need to be guided by the wiser to help heal patients, the patient stories, and the ward rounds, experiences with nurses, my respect for consultant’s mentorship and wisdom, and the dramas of hospitals!!
I felt intrigued all the way. It touched upon current contemporary ethical issues such as end of life decisions, and ultimately a twist of integrity of characters and the real champions…
A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos AM
Erudite, funny, thought provoking–an excellent read.
Thank you for writing a superbly interesting book about respect, love, compassion and integrity.
Should be required reading for living a good life.
A very accurate account of modern health care and a strong statement on how simple ethical constructs can so easily become unhinged. A particularly human account of how vocation, family, loss, compassion, ambition and self-concept can all combine to influence the day by day accounts of the life within acute medical care. An astonishing ending that leaves you thinking and thinking … and a real page turner!
As a social commentary on the modern healthcare system and cost-cutting measures, this is an excellent book. Komesaroff is a practicing physician. He clearly knows the medicine, the culture of the hospital, and the social issues facing healthcare. Dr. Nevski is a well-developed and believable character, and the hospital world is immersive.
I started and finished the book in a couple of days, as I found it so enthralling and could not wait to see the outcomes.
It was a most enjoyable read from many perspectives. It gave me a great opportunity to reflect in depth on the pleasures and some of the problems associated with clinical practice and teaching, and on some of the difficulties with clinician-administrative linkages in hospitals.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting weekly over the last three years with the same small group of medical students, seeing patients with them and acting as teacher, tutor and mentor. We address clinical interviewing and examination, professionalism and ethics. There is no shortage of ethical themes arising from the patients the students see, as well as those we see together, but your novel is also a great source of additional issues to discuss. It would make great reading for clinical students, and also as a basis for discussions with them.
I admired and in many ways could readily identify with Dr Nevsky until the very end of the book, after the sexual encounter with his registrar… It seems to me a pity that there was not more discussion of the issues around and the magnitude of this transgression, after which Nevsky seemed to return to practice, almost as before.
I was also struck by Ursula Timoshenko’s behaviour after she was found to have a life-threatening condition. My experience, based on several similar patients with hypochondriasis as a “way of life”, is that their anxiety and behaviour changes completely after such a diagnosis. My patients all became surprisingly calm and accepting and so much easier to manage, almost as if they’d been just waiting the whole time to develop something sinister.
I do look forward to your next novel!
I found a copy in a bookshop but didn’t have time to read it until a few days before I left Colombo when I opened it for the first time. I continued reading it on the plane and every evening after I arrived here. It has been a kind of a revelation! It is not only the best ‘Physician’s Tale’ that I have ever had the good fortune to read, but it resonated my own thoughts in so many pages!
Very early in the book (2nd para of page 29 to be exact) the words were like thunderbolts. They were exactly the kind of feelings I underwent when my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and died of it three years later in February 2011… Then again from page 216-223 the whole episode 63 about Mrs. Newton seemed to me too familiar to be mere coincidence! Mrs. Newton was 56 years old and was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. My wife was 57 and had secondaries in the lymph nodes, lungs and liver just like Mrs. Newton. Those feelings Prof. Nevski went through and more, continue to consume me even now.
The other series of thunderbolts came soon after, on pages 44-45. I couldn’t help but identify myself with Abraham. The thoughts therein reminded me so vividly of the ‘battles’ (some won, some lost) I have had with authorities as a young lecturer, reaping the consequences and paying the price of being overlooked for a good postgraduate scholarship and watching it being awarded to a less deserving junior; feeling weary, frustrated and hopeless in my feeble attempts to change the status quo and disturb the ‘comfort zones’ of the implacably complacent academic colleagues; as a Marxist, once upon a time, dreaming the impossible dreams of revolution and justice for the weak, the down-trodden and the poor; violating dress codes (I was one of the few medical students who wore sandals to clinical classes and got chased out from their wards by impeccably dressed consultants) and refusing to wear ties to work as the Vice-Chancellor of my university for 6 years (2007-2013); using my lectures in physiology to exhort students to develop values and ethics of professional conduct in consonance with expected standards of doctors and not be swayed or enticed by the lure of ‘filthy lucre’ that has engulfed a large proportion of the medical professionals; Like Abraham, I have always tried to live ethically in my professional and private life; but then questioning myself as to whether I live up to, at all times, by what I believe in and what I ‘preach’. Or as Marina Bell says, am I “Faking It” sometimes?!
So many words, phrases and sentences in so many pages throughout the book keep ringing in my ears. I am overwhelmed…
Prof. Susirith Mendis Senior Professor of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle, Sri Lanka Former Vice-Chancellor (2007-2013) and former Dean, Faculty of Medicine (1996-2005), University of Ruhuna. Currently on sabbatical leave and contract with Gulf Medical University, Ajman, U.A.E., as Director, Centre for Medical Education & Continuing Professional Development and Director, Centre for Continuing Education & Community Outreach
I won a copy of “Riding a crocodile” in an end of year quiz at the December Ethics Committee meeting – best prize ever! I didn’t realise you had written a novel, but I wanted to let you know I really enjoyed it and I hope you write more. I could hardly put it down once I started reading.
It’s not often I actually know the author of a book I like, so it’s a joy to be able to thank you for your writing. The characters are wonderful and you can imagine how thought provoking many aspects of the book are for someone who works in the public health system. You covertly raised so many of the questions I’ve encountered at work – and in some cases gave me quite a new perspective to consider through the voices of your various characters. I will be recommending this to colleagues for sure.
This fictionalised account – and an insider’s tale – sheds some light on the machinery of a major teaching hospital and interweaves it with an unsettling detective story that explores the morals of life and death issues that have significant current crucial current climate.
Melbourne-based Professor Komesaroff, a physician and philosopher at Monash University, is a published author of 14 books, but this is his first novel.
While it’s an inventive work that laces together events, characters, predicaments, places and dilemmas, it does not mean that the book is “completely disconnected from real experiences”.
It exudes authenticity. In fact, it has intricately been threaded together following “contact over many years with patients, nurses, doctors and others who have shared their stories with me”.
Needless to say, the lessons provided have been unexpected and often astonishing.
Regarded as a ‘hospital noir’, it articulately examines the workings of biomedicine and discloses the suffering, love, misery, wittiness, confrontations and how self-respect etches some lasting effects on ageing, illness and death.
Riding a Crocodile follows a professor as he becomes aware of some alarming vicissitudes that become apparent at the hospital. After a succession of suspicious deaths, a bewildering world consumes him as he confronts the dangers that surround him.
It is contemporary, has some stirring moments and provides some stimulating food for thought.
With an international reputation in health care ethics, Professor Komesaroff is a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia – an honour accorded to him in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. The award was in recognition of his significant service to ethics in medicine as a physician, researcher and philosopher.