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'The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness' on Wednesday's Access Utah

The cover for Meghan O'Rourke's book, "The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness."
Penguin Random House

A silent epidemic of chronic illnesses afflicts tens of millions of Americans: these are diseases that are poorly understood, frequently marginalized and can go undiagnosed and unrecognized altogether. In her new book “The Invisible Kingdom,” Meghan O’Rourke investigates this elusive category of “invisible” illness that encompasses autoimmune diseases, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome and now long COVID.

Drawing on her own medical experiences as well as a decade of interviews with doctors, patients, researchers and public health experts, O’Rourke traces the history of Western definitions of illness, and reveals how inherited ideas of cause, diagnosis and treatment have led us to ignore a host of hard-to-understand medical conditions, ones that resist easy description or simple cures. And as America faces this health crisis of extraordinary proportions, the populations most likely to be neglected by our institutions include women, the working class and people of color.

Meghan O’Rourke is the author of the books The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness and The Long Goodbye, as well as the poetry collections Sun In Days, Once, and Halflife. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, and more. A former editor at The New Yorker, she has served as culture editor and literary critic for Slate as well as poetry editor for the Paris Review. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, and a Whiting Nonfiction Award, she resides in New Haven, where she teaches at Yale University and is the editor of The Yale Review.

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Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.