Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for journalism and a National Magazine Award, Sheri Fink is the author of Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital. The book is a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina, and a suspenseful portrayal of the pursuit of justice and the slippery nature of truth.
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the hospital’s power failed and the heat climbed. As the situation deteriorated, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients to rescue first—and others to rescue last. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of healthcare rationing. Five Days at Memorial is a staggering feat of investigative journalism that reads as compellingly as the best thrillers.
“[Fink] evenhandedly compels readers to consider larger questions, not just ethics but race, resources, history and what constitutes the greater good, while humanizing the countless smaller tragedies that make up the whole. And, crucially, she provides context, relating how other hospitals fared in similar situations.”
—Keir Graff, Booklist (starred review)
Named a Best Nonfiction Book of 2013 by The New York Times, Five Days also won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Ridenhour Book Prize, and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The book has been selected as a common read by Northeastern University and Grand Valley State University.
“A triumph of journalism… Fink recreates this world with mastery and sensitivity, revealing the full humanity of each character… Fink’s narrative wades through the muck and finds only real people making tough choices under circumstances the rest of us, if we’re lucky, will never experience.”
—The Houston Chronicle
In addition to the Pulitzer, Fink’s journalism has earned her the National Magazine Award, the Overseas Press Club Lowell Thomas Award, and other journalism prizes. In 2015 she was a member of The New York Times reporting team to receive the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for coverage of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. A former relief worker in disaster and conflict zones, Fink received her MD and PhD from Stanford University. Her medical background makes her uniquely qualified to report on the intersections between human-made conflicts, natural disasters, and medicine. At the same time, her writing style is engaging and transparent, making even the thorniest ethical issues and most complex medical challenges accessible for every reader.
Fink’s first book, War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival (PublicAffairs), is about medical professionals under siege during the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. More recently, Fink served as an executive producer on the Netflix documentary series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak and has reported on the human response to global crises for The New York Times and ProPublica, from the devastating effects Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, mass shootings, medical conditions related to migrants at the United States southwestern border, to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.