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Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn

Pharmakon (a Greek word meaning both poison and cure) is narrated by Zach Friedrich, whose father, William, a psychology professor at Yale just after World War II, developed a pill from a New Guinea plant that created happiness in people. His use of a human test subject, though, created disastrous results. Unaware of this episode of his father's life, Zach tells of his family life where psychopharmacology is a normal part of their family life. His mother suffers from mental illness, which his father is willing to treat, and Zach finds family secrets about his older brother's death. Zach examines all the family dynamics, not realizing his upbringing was not a normal one. Dirk Wittenborn's novel has received positive reviews with the New York Times saying, "Ultimately Pharmakon is a smart, eccentric coming-of-age story about an entire culture's maturation process, not just one about the workings of a single family. And Mr. Wittenborn is able to channel a lifetime's worth of psychiatric symptoms into one improbably universal story."
Buy Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn
New York Times review by Janet Maslin

BookPage review by Sarah E. White

Seattle Times review by Mark Lindquist review by Max Falkowitz

USA Today review by David Daley

New York Times review by James Kaplan

Dirk Wittenborn
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