Physician Paul Farmer, Author Tracy Kidder to Visit Duke Sept. 29

The author of the summer reading assignment 'Mountains Beyond Mountains' and the book's subject, Physician Paul Farmer, will sit down to speak with the Duke community

Duke alumnus and physician Paul Farmer, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who wrote his story about delivering modern medicine to the poor, will visit Duke University on Sept. 29.

The event, billed as "A Conversation with Tracy Kidder and Dr. Paul Farmer," will begin at 8 p.m. in Page Auditorium on Duke's West Campus. The event, sponsored by Duke Magazine and the Division of Student Affairs, is free and open to the public.

Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains" was selected as the summer reading assignment for Duke's Class of 2008. It chronicles Farmer's effort to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Kidder follows Farmer through Haiti, Peru, Cuba and Russia as Farmer changes minds and international health practices through his dedication to the philosophy that "the only real nation is humanity."

"We are thrilled to have the author and subject of our summer reading selection coming to campus," said Ryan Lombardi, assistant dean of students and chairman of the summer reading committee. "'Mountains Beyond Mountains' received a great response from our first-year students. Not only did everyone thoroughly enjoy reading it, but many were inspired by the passion and dedication of Dr. Farmer."

Farmer's efforts are through Partners In Health, a nonprofit organization he co-founded to provide direct health-care services and undertake advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. With a series of success stories internationally, he and his colleagues have won over skeptics who once believed that high-quality health care was impossible to deliver in resource-poor areas.

One sign of their success is the array of awards for Farmer, which include Duke's Humanitarian Award, the MacArthur Foundation "genius award" and the Heinz Foundation Award.

Kidder has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. In addition to "Mountains Beyond Mountains," he is the author of "The Soul of a New Machine," "House," "Among Schoolchildren," "Old Friends" and "Home Town." 

Duke Magazine is also sponsoring, with Perkins Library, a Kidder reading at 4 p.m. Sept. 29 in the Rare Book Room in Perkins Library.

While in Durham, Farmer and Kidder also will interact with students. Among other activities, Farmer will meet with first-year medical students and participate in a global health discussion with campus leaders. Kidder will meet with a journalism class. Both also plan to have breakfast with members of Duke's summer reading selection committee.