Author(s): Eula Biss
When Eula Biss became a mother, she stepped into a new world of fear: fear of the government, the medical establishment, the contents of her child's air, food, mattress and vaccines. In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity, and its implications for the individual and the social body. Weaving her personal experiences with an exploration of classical and contemporary literature, Biss considers what vaccines, and the debate around them, mean for her own child, her immediate community and the wider world. On Immunity is an inoculation against our fear and a moving account of how we are all interconnected;our bodies and our fates.
I think this is a really important book. Eula Biss writes not as a medical professional, but as a mother who harbours many concerns about immunisation. In order to do what’s best for her child she sets out to discover the scientific facts, and debunks some myths along the way. None of the information she gives is new, it’s all out there to be found, but she highlights that it isn’t always easy to know what information is reliable. She also examines the social, political and economic arguments surrounding the issue. Particularly interesting was the idea of inoculation as social contract: that once you have a certain percentage of the population immunised then they will help to shield those who haven’t - often those of lower socioeconomic groups and the more medically vulnerable. Of course the more people who are immunised, the stronger that protective barrier is. Because this is about her journey as a parent I think it is really accessible, especially to other parents who have the same concerns. If there’s any book in the shop at the moment that I think people need to read, it’s this one. - Holly
Shortlisted for National Book Critics Circle Awards 2014.
Eula Biss is the author of Notes from No Man's Land, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and The Balloonists. Her essays have appeared in the Believer and Harper's Magazine. She teaches at Northwestern University and lives in Chicago.