Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine Audiobook, by James Maskalyk Play Audiobook Sample

Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine Audiobook

Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine Audiobook, by James Maskalyk Play Audiobook Sample
FlexPass™ Price: $23.95
$9.95 for new members!(Includes UNLIMITED podcast listening) Add to Cart learn more
Regular Price: $29.95 Add to Cart
Read By: James Maskalyk Publisher: Penguin Random House Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 4.00 hours at 1.5x Speed 3.00 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: April 2018 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9780385692724

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

33:44 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

15 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

13:45 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Publisher Description

*Canada Reads 2019 Longlist

*Winner of the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Do no harm is our most important rule, but we break it all the time trying to do good.


In this deeply personal book, winner of the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, humanitarian doctor and activist James Maskalyk reflects upon his extensive experience in emergency medicine. Splitting his time between a trauma centre in Toronto's inner city and the largest teaching hospital in Addis Ababa, he discovers that though the cultures, resources and medical challenges of the hospitals may differ, they are linked indelibly by the ground floor: the location of their emergency rooms. Here, on the ground floor, is where Maskalyk confronts his fears and doubts about medicine, and witnesses our mourning and laughter, tragedies and hopes, the frailty of being and the resilience of the human spirit.

     Yet, he is swept most intimately into this story of "human aliveness" not as a physician, but as a grandson carrying for his grandfather, now in his nineties.

     Masterfully written and artfully structured, Life on the Ground Floor is more than just an emergency doctor's memoir—it's a meditation on health and sickness, on when to hang on tight, and when to let go.

Download and start listening now!

The problem with memoirs, especially when they are written by Western doctors heading off to Africa for work, is they can be self-indulgent and messianic in tone. Dr. James Maskalyk deftly avoids that trap in his highly acclaimed first book, Six Months in Sudan . . . [and] he's done so again in his new memoir, Life on the Ground Floor. . . . [His] idealism and passion are obvious .  . . but the strength of the book is that it captures the viscera, real and symbolic, of the ER—its sights, sounds, smells, pulse—without romanticizing the work. . . . Ultimately, that's what the book is about—making connections, across continents, culture and social classes, and clinging to the joyful moments that can be found amid the horror.

— The Globe and Mail 


  • National BestsellerWinner of the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for NonfictionShortlisted for the 2018 RBC Taylor PrizeShortlisted for the 2018 Trillium Book AwardShortlisted for the 2018 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-FictionLonglisted for the 2018 B.C. National Award for Canadian NonfictionFinalist for the 2017 Toronto Book AwardsCanada Reads 2019 LonglistA Globe and Mail Best Book of 2017A National Post Best Book of 2017A CBC Best Book of 2017A Chatelaine Best Book of 2017

  • "A master of the medical memoir . . . Dr. James Maskalyk has a remarkable talent for description and detail. . . . [He] is entrancingly interesting . . . and his talent is offering serial nuggets of insight into things we rarely consider. . . . What makes Maskalyk so readable? He is a noticer of small things, a person on whom nothing is lost.

    — Toronto Star
  • "Maskalyk delivers a vivid and compelling sense of the emotional urgency in the ER—which is the same no matter the continent—for patients, the people who love them and the people who are trying to keep them alive.

    — Chatelaine
  • "With his moving and penetrating account of his experiences as an emergency room doctor in hospitals from Toronto to Ethiopia, Maskalyk joined a centuries-old tradition of doctors who write well.

    — Maclean's 
  • A raw, authentic and deeply humanitarian memoir of life as an emergency physician, written with eloquence and wisdom.

    — Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum
  • Another beautiful, tender and moving portrait of humanity from one of Canada's finest new, non-fiction writers. Life on the Ground Floor perfectly captures the human spirit in all of its complexities, weaving a powerful narrative that is at once gripping, evocative and tinged with humour. In the tradition of Ryszard Kapuscinski, Katherine Boo and Wilfred Thesiger, Maskalyk has a rare sense of people and place, bringing readers along on an extraordinary journey.

    — Samantha Nutt, author of Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies & Aid
  • Maskalyk offers penetrating, honest and deeply personal insight into modern-day medical practice with all of its paradoxes, ambiguities and uncertainties. Life on the Ground Floor is yet another superb book from one of Canada's best writers, Maskalyk at his shining best.

    — James Orbinski, author of An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century

Life on the Ground Floor Listener Reviews

Be the first to write a review about this audiobook!