The Gene: An Intimate History

Written by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Narrated by Dennis Boutslkaris

Interestingly, I was reading this book when the Audie Award nominees were announced. I read it nearly back-to-back with Mukherjee’s debut, The Emperor of All Maladies narrated by Thomas Hoye, so there were a lot of ideas and comparisons swirling through my head.

In telling the story of the gene, Mukherjee tells the story of his family, especially the history of schizophrenia on his father’s side. He writes about growing up in and traveling to India to visit family and about his father’s childhood. It was a bit disjointing to hear so much of this Indian family history read with such a white, American accent. Throughout the book, I wondered if I would have found it more authentic if someone with an Indian background had narrated it, such as Vikas Adam.

Boutslkaris shines in the stretches between personal stories. There are some especially tricky passages of As, Gs, Cs, and Ts (DNA sequences) that he makes quite accessible and easy-to-understand. He brings an enthusiasm to the subject that is infectious. In general, a solid job of nonfiction narration.

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