Oliver Sacks, R.I.P. (1933-2015)

Neurologist and best-selling author Olver Sacks died on August 30 at the age of 82. In a 2011 essay in The New York Review of Books, Sue Halpern described Sacks as “the best-known neurologist in the world. It’s a distinction he’s earned over fifty-odd years, not for his stellar lab work or cutting-edge biomedical inventions, but for something far more basic—his ability to tell stories. . . . In book after book, Sacks has taken the patient history—the most basic tool of medicine—and turned it into art. By his telling, the brain, his bailiwick, is made more mysterious, not less, and it is through that mystery that Sacks elucidates it.”

In 1995, Ken Myers interviewed literary critic Alan Jacobs about Sacks’s ability as a story-teller. The occasion for that interview was the publication of Sacks’s book, An Anthropologist on Mars. We’re re-releasing that interview in honor of Sacks’s contribution to our understanding of the shape of human experience.

 

Listen to Alan Jacobs on Oliver Sacks

Learn more about Oliver Sacks

• The official Oliver Sacks web page contains information about all of his books, about the films his writing inspired, and about the charitable foundation he founded.

• The June 2015 issue of Vanity Fair contained a feature article about Sacks written by his long-time friend Lawrence Weschler.

• In “A Bolt from the Blue,” Sacks tells the story of an orthopedic surgeon struck by lightning who suddenly senses an insatiable need for music.

• In this video interview, Oliver Sacks summarizes his findings about the remarkable relationship between music and memory.