Age: 57.

Raised: Born to Indian parents in Ethiopia, grew up near Addis Ababa.

Lives: Palo Alto, Calif.

Family: Three children from two previous marriages.

Education: Graduated from Madras Medical College in India; fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine; MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, 1991.

Current position: Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Earlier books: "My Own Country: A Doctor's Story," nonfiction, about working with AIDS patients in rural Tennessee; "The Tennis Partner: A Story of Friendship and Loss," a memoir about a friend's addiction.

Literary inspirations: "I read without discrimination, anyone who can transport me out of the present reality. John Irving, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dickens, Tolstoy. Also mystery writers like James Lee Burke."

A favorite quote: "Fiction is the great lie that tells the truth," by author Dorothy Allison.

Working on: "A new novel, another epic story, this one set in Kerala, India, where my parents are from. I'm intrigued by the mix of cultures there, an ancient Christian tradition with a Hindu backdrop. It involves medicine and the priesthood."