Alanna Mitchell
Malignant Metaphor: Confronting Cancer Myths

Book Cover

Why does cancer have such a deadly hold over our collective imagination? Why do we fear it above all else, even bankruptcy, crime, and sudden death? And why is our dread intensifying, despite the fact that many types of cancer are less common than ever, more curable, and far better understood?

Because cancer has become our malignant metaphor, a billboard for our secret sins. We haven’t been eating the right food; we have failed to exercise enough; we have buried too much destructive emotion — in short, we have brought the disease upon ourselves. Somehow, we have allowed cancer to represent an irreconcilable trifecta of blame and anxiety: it is inevitable, yet preventable and deserved.

But it is time to rewrite the metaphor.

When her beloved brother-in-law is diagnosed with the disease, award-winning science writer Alanna Mitchell throws herself into the latest research and clinical literature, breaking it down into a clear, understandable description of what doctors and scientists know of cancer and its treatments. Clear-eyed and compassionate, Mitchell opens the door to new ways of looking at our most-feared illness.

Praise for Malignant Metaphor:

“Mitchell has crafted a book with a very easy entry point. We have all been touched by cancer in one form or another. We’ve all crafted our own bespoke way of coping with its impact. I think we’d all do well to approach it with the openness and candour Mitchell brings to the table.” —The Globe and Mail

“It is a prudently contrarian view of cancer’s real and perceived threat to humankind that runs throughout Malignant Metaphor: Confronting Cancer Myths by Mitchell, a lauded Toronto journalist and author. The book is a modern incantation of the 1978 classic Illness as Metaphor by American essayist Susan Sontag, which rebuked the guilt complex that patients have about disease. . . . In her efforts to distill fears from facts, Mitchell is careful not to undermine the devastating impact of this disease. . . . In dissecting the cancer metaphor, Mitchell had disarmed it.” —Maclean's

"In addition to her clear medical explanations, Mitchell’s compassionate attitude will bring comfort to those readers and their loved ones facing a cancer diagnosis." —Publishers Weekly

"[Mitchell] uses her keen investigative skills to demystify our most dreaded disease. . . . Mitchell’s research is rooted in science, while her writing remains grippingly personal. Propelled by cancer diagnoses in her brother-in-law and daughter, the author probes both conventional and alternative treatments in search of answers." —Quill & Quire

Praise for Alanna Mitchell's Sea Sick:

National Bestseller
Winner of the 2010 Grantham Prize

An Amazon Best Book of the Year (so far)
A 2009 The Globe 100 selection, The Globe & Mail
Finalist for the Lane Anderson Award

Sea Sick is an adventure tale with scientists as the heroes. With wit, style and a powerful sense of history it takes us on a wonderful fact-finding tour beneath the surface of Earth’s largest habitat. It could help change the way we think about our relationship with the seas.” —Roger Harrabin, BBC Focus Magazine

“Don't be seduced by Mitchell’s easy style. This is an important book about the state of two-thirds of our planet.” —New Scientist

“…[Alanna Mitchell] writes intelligently and passionately. You need to read it too.” —The Globe & Mail

“Keeping the ocean’s life switch turned on will require all of us to, like Mitchell, choose hope and to do something about it. Reading this book is a good first step.” —Montreal Gazette

“A strong examination of degraded global ocean health based on years of research with top world scientists.” —Vancouver Province

“Each chapter in the book blends lucid, factual explanation of complex subjects with engaging chronicles of the author’s travels to far-flung parts of the globe.” —Quill & Quire

“This book is spectacularly good and will be an important contribution to the publicly accessible literature on the environmental changes being wrought
on our fragile oceans.” —The Quarterly Review of Biology

“A riveting book of revelations about Earth’s largest and most important habitat.” —Tim Flannery, author of The Weathermakers

Sea Sick is the most comprehensive book to date on the state of our oceans. With a writer’s eye for detail and a reporter’s expertise in pulling in disparate information, Mitchell has woven a powerful and deeply unsettling story about our collective abuse of the cradle of all life. Fortunately, she also gives us hope and a path forward if we have the wisdom to act.” —Maude Barlow
“Alanna Mitchell has brilliantly woven together the threads of science taking place all over the world pointing to an accelerating crisis in the world’s oceans. She makes the case compellingly that the declining health of the planet's oceans — the place where life began, larger than our atmosphere and where 99% of life exists — is an imminent threat to survival on land. I thought I was sufficiently well-informed and alert to the risks of planetary collapse before reading this book. Turns out I was wrong. The climate crisis is more an ocean crisis. That she still finds reasons to hope is one reason you must read this book.” —Elizabeth May
“Humanity is visiting a desolation upon the world. We already bear primary responsibility for the extermination of more than 100,000 fellow species/fellow travelers. During the next few decades, that colossal massacre may well be doubled or trebled. Death is running amok on the earth, but especially in the sea. If you would know how and why, read Sea Sick . . . although it may make you heartsick.” —Farley Mowat

Length: 184 pages (hc)
Publication Date: September 2015

North American English rights, ECW

For all other rights contact The Cooke Agency.
Author Name

Alanna Mitchell is an award-winning journalist and author, who writes about science and social trends. She is a global thinker who specializes in investigative reporting. Her most recent full-length book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis, is an international bestseller that won the prestigious Grantham Prize for excellence in environmental journalism. Her one-woman play based on that book was nominated for a Dora Award and she is performing it on a national tour. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.