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Extended Audio Sample The Diagnosis: A Novel Audiobook, by Alan Lightman Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (579 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alan Lightman Narrator: Scott Brick Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2000 ISBN: 9781415910870
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • In Praise of The Diagnosis
  • The Diagnosis is packed with dark power and awful humor. Lightman's intelligence, imagination, and clarity of style mark him as one of the most brilliant contemporary American writers. Annie Proulx
  • I know of no novel that captures the technological horror and pervasive spiritual poverty of our wildly prosperous land in so powerful a way as The Diagnosis. It is haunting. Norman Mailer

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 1/4/2014

    " Read this for school... not sure what to think besides a total dissatisfaction with the lack of resolution... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Janet | 12/26/2013

    " I didn't even enjoy the process of reading this book that much... but I kept with it just hoping that there would be a payoff in the end. There wasn't. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanu | 12/13/2013

    " pretty good but dropped the ball at the end..... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tony Fecteau | 10/31/2013

    " You have to keep reading to find out what happens. This is definitely a page turner. The main character is confused and quite confusing for the readers. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sara | 10/26/2013

    " Intriguing at first, but became increasingly difficult to read. Difficult in the boring sense, which is a shame because it was well written. The email excerpts really started to bother me, mostly because of the intentional typos. I enjoyed the fictional Socrates side story, but I don't think I've made the connection yet to how it relates to Bill. Something to discuss at book club... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chandra | 10/12/2013

    " I kept waiting for something to happen. After 369 pages I was still waiting. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lee | 8/27/2013

    " As some of the other reviewers have noted, my expectations for this book were high, based on my reading of "Einstein's Dreams." I kept waiting for this book to capture my interest but it never did. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sue | 7/21/2013

    " I had read part of this novel some years ago but not finished it. Now I've read the whole thing. Mixed feelings. I'll quote Kirkus Reviews, which says it best: "haunting if ultimately unsatisfying metafiction." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura Mazzola | 2/12/2013

    " I read this book for the AP Institute Conference in Vermont. I can honestly say I didn't really enjoy the book, but I did like the issues it brought up and the discussions we had as a result of it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rick | 9/18/2012

    " DON'T GET SICK !!!!!! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 M | 7/25/2012

    " I'll give you a diagnosis, alright. You have suckitis. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kay | 6/14/2012

    " The most maddening aspect of this book was how pitiful the payoff is at the end. The poor reader suffers through 300+ pages of worrying about the main character who suffers from an undiagnosed illness only to find out....nothing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bobby | 10/13/2011

    " Not a bad concept but poorly executed in almost every way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sally | 1/22/2011

    " Interesting book about a man in health care hell. Did I enjoy it? No, but it made me very anxious, and i had to finish it, so it must have been good "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ruth | 1/17/2011

    " I actually listened to this on tape. I buy used tapes so don't always have much selection. Picked this becausese I tend to be fascinated by things medical. I kept listening in hopes of a resolution. Btween the first tape and the last I suffered through a major Slough of Bad Writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 D.Travers | 10/3/2010

    " I didn't love it but was excited by its relevance to my research interests in modern technology, disease, neurasthenia, gender, etc. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Wendy | 8/11/2010

    " A really really bad book. Don't waste your time. Listened to this on CD, a decent ending might have saved it, but it was not to be. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Preeta | 5/11/2010

    " Loved Einstein's Dreams, and so keep turning the pages hoping for something resembling that great read. Sadly disappointed, a dark and depressing book with on a small nightlight of hope throughout. Interesting touch of misspelled emails throughout - but lost its novelty by the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cassie | 3/5/2010

    " Well-written but bordering on too existential -- depressive tale from an author who readily admits he thinks technology will be society's downfall. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 10/9/2009

    " The Diagnosis: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) by Alan Lightman (2002) "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lee | 10/1/2009

    " As some of the other reviewers have noted, my expectations for this book were high, based on my reading of "Einstein's Dreams." I kept waiting for this book to capture my interest but it never did. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robert | 4/2/2009

    " Well, it gathered steam and I enjoyed the ending (no spoilers). there are some messages therein, but also a literary exercise, I think, and that's not too much fun.
    "I'm not as f***ed as those people!" Whew! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 1/5/2009

    " Ahhhh, dang. Couldn't, just couldn't get through it. Fascinating topic but too much atmosphere of stifling, realistic office/corporate speak kept getting in the way. Picked it up because I LOVED Einstein's Dreams. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sam | 1/4/2009

    " I really wanted to like this better, and I think the author has a lot to say about how our information-saturated culture makes it difficult to 'read, mark, learn & inwardly digest' the data that is sent our way, but it was ponderous reading. "

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About the Author
Author Alan Lightman

Alan Lightman is the author of several novels, including Einstein’s Dreams, a New York Times and international bestseller, and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award. He is also the author of several collections of essays and numerous books on science. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, Granta, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, and Nature, among many other publications. A theoretical physicist as well as a writer, he has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities.

About the Narrator

Scott Brick, actor, narrator, and writer, attended UCLA and spent ten years in a traveling Shakespeare company. Passionate about the spoken word, he has narrated a wide variety of audiobooks, from thrillers and science fiction to classics and nonfiction. He has recorded more than eight hundred audiobooks and won over fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards and several of the prestigious Audie Awards. He was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine and the Voice of Choice for 2016 by Booklist magazine.