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Most of us have experience of illness—either as a patient, a relative or carer or as a health professional. Frequently, our experience does not entirely match up to our expectation or understanding of the illness. This mismatch between the reality of our experience and feelings and what we have been told or read about the illness is hard to reconcile. There are many ways to cope with this disparity, and one is to explore other people’s perspective on illness. The Belleville Literary Review (BLR) provides an excellent way of doing this. The Belleville Hospital is the oldest public hospital in the USA and the BLR has been published by the Department of Medicine at New York University since 2002. It carries a collection of short stories and poems about the experience of illness, health and healing.
The Best of the Belleville Literary Review is an anthology of the first 6 years of the BLR. It is divided into sections: Initiation (including Doctors and Patients); Conflict: Grappling with Illness (including Disability, Coping, Connections and Family); and Denouement (Mortality, Death, Loss and Aftermath). The contributors are largely from the USA and include doctors and other health professionals, literary academics, poets and novelists. Some are established writers such as Rafael Campo, Dannie Abse …