top of page

A Surgeon in the Village

Notes and Sources



Below are notes and sources for A Surgeon in the Village (Beacon Press) and Send Forth the Healing Sun (the HarperCollins edition in Canada). My goal in writing this book was to craft a narrative about complex global health topics without slowing the reader's progress with footnotes and too many digressions. That said, the book is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with Dilan Ellegala, Carin Hoek, Emmanuel Mayegga, Emanuel Nuwas, Hayte  Samo, Naftali and Haika Naman, and the many other characters that populate the book's pages. These interviews were done in the United States and during five trips to Tanzania between 2010 and 2015. Other sources include academic papers, books, journals, diaries, medical records, and photographs.

I was present during many moments described in the book after the year 2010 when I first met Dilan Ellegala in Charleston, South Carolina. Since much of this story happens before that time, I’ve reconstructed scenes and dialogue as best as fallible memories allow. When possible, I’ve confirmed dialogue with both participants. In some cases, particularly when Tanzanian characters tried to speak English for my benefit, I condensed and edited dialogue to capture the conversation’s gist. I witnessed numerous brain surgeries in Haydom and the United States, including Dilan’s  successful

standstill in Lynchburg, Virginia.

To protect the privacy of patients in both Tanzania and the United States, I’ve changed names and identifying details in several instances. Several characters’ names have been shortened or changed for similar reasons. Since the notes, recordings, and citations upon which this story is based are voluminous, I’ve selected the most pertinent ones  below,  especially those that might be of further interest to readers.

A note on the titles: A Surgeon in the Village is a riff on James Baldwin's famous essay, A Stranger in the Village. "Send Forth the Sun" comes from an Angolan proverb which says the rising sun will provide all the warmth you'll need for the coming day.

bottom of page