GREENCASTLE -- "On the subject of books that are hard to describe and much more interesting than they sound, I'd recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot," opines Kate Sidley in the Sunday Times of Johannesburg, South Africa. "Bioethics, race, genetics, science and family are woven into a surprise best-seller and a moving and thought-provoking read," she writes. Skloot will come to DePauw University on September 9 to discuss her book.
As Sidley explains, "Lacks was a poor black woman in the American South, who died of aggressive cancer in the '50s. Her cancer cells were harvested and it was discovered that, unlike most human cells, they could survive and multiply easily in the lab. Reproduced, shared and sold, her cells have been used in medical research into everything from the effects of the atom bomb, to the development of the polio vaccine, making her, unwittingly, one of the most important women in modern medical history. The author tracks both the cell line and Lacks's descendants, in a fascinating book that is simultaneously biography, social history and science journalism."
Last Tuesday, she was announced as the recipient of a 2010 Heartland Prize from the Chicago Tribune.