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Right of Thirst
Frank Huyler
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Right of Thirst

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  273 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews

Shattered by his wife's death, and by his own role in it, successful cardiologist Charles Anderson volunteers to assist with earthquake relief in an impoverished Islamic country in a constant state of conflict with its neighbor. But when the refugees he's come to help do not appear and artillery begins to fall in the distance along the border, the story takes an unexpected

Kindle Edition, 355 pages
Published (first published April 21st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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I picked this book up and was captivated by the thoughtful questions this book appears to offer from the synopsis on the back of the book. " man's desire to live a moral life offers a moving exploration of the tensions between poverty and wealth, the ethics of intervention, the deep cultural differences that divide the world, and the essential human similarities that unite it."

The Doctor struggles to live after his wife passes away. "But in the days and weeks that followed Rachel's death,
Jan 24, 2010 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: I think NY Times Book Review, but I also found it on the "new bo
Shelves: fiction
This is the story of a man whose wife dies when he's around 60. To make sense of his life, he goes off to an unnamed country, but which seems probably to be Afghanistan, volunteering his doctor skills. The story takes place first in the US, with his wife dying, then in the camp where he stays in the far country, then in the city when that is over, as he makes sense of his experience there. One of the reviews on the back of the book says: "one of the finest novels I've read in years." These kind ...more
May 28, 2009 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another book I picked up to pass time in an airport, and I was surprised and captivated from the first page. As a person of faith and a divinity student, my reading is understandably slanted toward a Christian worldview. I appreciated the challenge to my thinking presented by Huyler's religious ambiguity. I have a handful of books that I reread every couple of years, because of the unique way they challenge me, and I imagine "Right of Thirst" will find its way to that shelf.
Jul 14, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The writing is exquisite and the characters are beautifully developed. Told in the first person, it's a very intimate, interior story of a thoughtful middle aged man trying to do something meaningful with his life. Although nothing goes as planned, he (and we) learn a lot about a very different culture.
David. Luck
Feb 04, 2010 David. Luck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book, showcasing a part of the world that most of us do not know. It is also a great story about loss and the introspection of our lives during personal conflict. It is certainly a recommended read.
Aug 24, 2009 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well-written, hard to put down and sometimes hard to read if you long for happily-ever-after. Makes an interesting pairing with Three Cups of Tea.
Dec 02, 2009 Alexis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It was okay and I didn't mind that the narrator proved unlikeable in the first two chapters--it was a kind of reverse likeable-ness in that the narrator was reporting things that made him look bad. And it's a refreshing look at how NGOs don't always totally save the world and make it a better place while giving volunteers a deep sense of meaning in their lives. But suddenly my lukewarm feelings turned to dislike when I looked at the author discussion in the back. The author photo therein shows a ...more
Jan 06, 2011 Ernie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 01, 2010 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This doesn't seem like the kind of book I usually read, but I liked the first chapter enough to buy it and continue onward. The first chapter depicted a man and his wife in what appeared to be an assisted suicide, and it was written so tenderly (and without being maudlin) that I found my eyes welling up just a page into the book -- unusual for me. So, I'm giving this one a shot...


I finished this book in a day (but I spent all of yesterday reading). I thought it was excellent. I loved the autho
Feb 06, 2017 Ian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Could and should have been great - just goes to show how you cant put too much (any?) faith in the blurb.
A doctor turned novelist writing about a doctor who volunteers at a refugee camp with no refugees after his wife dies. The author goes to great lengths to tell us that, while the piece is based on his travels and experiences in Pakistan, the main character is not autobiographical, probably because he realises his creation is a plodding, spineless dolt bereft of charisma and, like the novel i
Nancy Lewis
Jun 29, 2015 Nancy Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pakistan
Charles, the protagonist, is perfectly self-interested in his attempt to help those in need. Rai, the local liaison, is complex in his motivations and ambitions. Elise, the scientist, wavers between accepting what is and fighting against it, knowing the fight is futile. And Ali is desperately servile. The only thing I would change about this story is to make clear which country we're in (according the end notes, it must be Pakistan). Without that clarity, the story loses some of its impact.

Oct 17, 2009 Gio rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frank Huyler delivers on a stark and sparse novel about a doctor who travels to an unnamed Asian country set in the Himalayas. The book itself provides a look into the life of a man who's lost his wife and seeks to find meaning in participating in a rescue mission for refugees of an earthquake.

Dr. Charles Anderson, a man who's lost his wife to cancer, takes off on a journey to forget his pain, but finds himself at peril when the rescue mission is far less than what he thought it would be.

The aut
The cover and back jacket made me think I was going to get something really interesting and informative, but just like the refugees, it never really materialized for me. So I gave up halfway in.

There were a couple of characters like Rai and the lecturer who had kind of annoying personalities, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I would have found out about Rai if I had read the whole thing, but that didn't happen. I didn't have anything against the protagonist and Elise, but I was still never really com
Dec 11, 2012 Naomi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rose Marie
This is a very important book for understanding how Americans are perceived in the world. The narrative takes place in Pakistan --though the country is not named in the novel --where the protagonist, a middle-aged doctor, is seeking renewal and transformation by volunteering to take care of earthquake victims. The victims of earthquake never show up but the camp erected for their arrival arouses suspicion across the border where the enemy is watchful. Shooting ensues causing an unnecessary death ...more
Aug 06, 2009 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first novel written by an ER doctor, the book tells the story of a recently widowed and deeply grieving heart surgeon who seeks for new meaning in his life by joining a group that serves in earthquake refugee camps in an unnamed, war-torn Islamic country (although it sounds much like Pakistan). When he gets to his destination, which is a remote camp in the mountains far away from any large cities, no refugees materialize and he spends his days waiting with another volunteer (who is actually ...more
Aug 12, 2010 TheSecretWriter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very good fictional read. It tells the story of a cardiologist who after the death of his wife sets out to try and sort out within himself where his own life is going after this traumatic event. He decides to volunteer as a doctor in a newly set up refugee camp and so the actual story of the quest to resolve his inner conflicts begin. This story turned out much better than I first thought it would. The question that you are left wondering about within the first chapter is answered ...more
A cardiologist who neglects his wife suffers remorse when she dies of cancer and his intervention of assisted suicide. He tries to find meaning in life through going to Pakistan to help people displaced by the earthquake. No one shows up, and he and a co-worker get peripherally involved in a clash between Indian and Pakistani forces.

The protagonist is not very interesting, there's little growth in his character. The book begs for a sequel - at the end, he and his co-worker get bit by sand flies,
Nov 21, 2012 Jeet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping that I would enjoy this book...but I was thoroughly disappointed..the main character was wet...I felt like screaming at him at times....I was waiting for the storyline to kick never did:(...I was relieved when it times the main character really made me feel frustrated...I just wanted to jump into the book and say "wake up"....if you want a slow paced book...then this is the one for you....don't expect it to be a page turner or have a great story line....its not ...more
Lynne Brookfield
I read THE RIGHT OF THIRST in 2009 after reading THE BLOOD OF STRANGERS, Huyler's fascinating experiences in the ER. RIGHT OF THIRST is a beautifully written story of a physician's experience tending the ailments of tribal populations in the mountains of the Middle East. An Afghanistan-like place, though the author does not specify. The story is "riveting," to quote Tom Brokaw. And provocative as well.
Oct 19, 2009 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a man who is shattered by his wife's death, and the way his life has turned out in general. He leaves his comfortable life as a retired MD, and volunteers to assist with earthquake relief in an Islamic country which is in a constant state of conflict. It is also the story of one's own dispassion and distance and the ever present remorse of the road not taken. The characters were solid and highly believable. Great read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2011 Jessie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I had a hard time getting into this book at first, but after a while the story picked up pace and I really enjoyed it. It's an interesting meditation on international aid and on growing older, among other things. The writing is really beautiful and the plot has several twists that I was not expecting.
Interesting tale of a man recently widowed and trying to find a worthwhile experience or activity to give his life new meaning. He desires to do the right thing and make a difference but cultural misunderstandings get in the way. In the end he does some good things, never really seems to resolve his issues, but finds solace in the enduring bonds of family. I posted some quotes from this book.
Aug 28, 2009 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Based on the New Yorker blurb I was hoping for a more devastating critique of a naive and misguided humanitarian mission. The novel focuses on character development, and I wasn't very interested in any of the people Huyler creates. From the interview at the back of the book, the author comes off as very annoying, but to his credit it doesn't come through in the writing.
Aug 31, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected this to be a heavy book, but despite the plot I got a sense of being welcomed into the story. The main characters form a community despite their difference and all but two of the characters - sadly, children - are part of their own. Overall: a great read that gives you a peek around the curtain.
Oct 26, 2010 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An introspective look at one man's journey to find meaning in his life after the death of his wife. His experience of helping others in an impoverished country, in hopes of fulfillment, brings surprise, disappointment, and a new self-awareness to an individual in transition. How Americans, doing humanitarian work abroad, are perceived is a particularly interesting aspect of this novel.

Jul 21, 2012 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
A middle-aged doctor tries to find a way to make a difference in the world after his wife dies of cancer. He travels to an unnamed country that sounds very much like Pakistan to set up a camp for earthquake survivors, but is thwarted by bureaucracy, border skirmishes, and lack of resources.
Nov 08, 2009 M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up thinking it was non-fiction, despite part of the title being "a novel". Oh well. It was interesting enough, and I think a good insight into the cultural blunders inevitably tied up in most altruism.
Jul 12, 2014 Johan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the title & blurb on the back were misleading as I expected more about the country & it's people whereas it was more about the personal journey Charles was undertaking. I still enjoyed it though, well written.
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Born 1964, in Berkeley, CA; married, 2000. Education: Williams College, B.A., 1986; University of North Carolina School of Medicine, M.D., M.P.H. Addresses: Home: Albuquerque, NM.


Emergency medicine physician, educator, and author. University of New Mexico Hospitals, Albuquerque, resident, 1993- 96; physician, 1996--; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, assistant professor of emergency m
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“Children are not entirely human. There is a lot of the animal left in them.

about the girl who needed her foot amputated. p170”
“Only the effort of walking calmed me, and allowed me to think at all.

p 227”
More quotes…