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Prizes by Erich Segal- A Narrative of Human Desires

Prizes by erich segal

Prizes by Erich Segal

Recently I’ve finished reading an American Novel named “Prizes” by Erich Wolf Segal. It’s the first literature I’ve read in English which is referred by my mentor.

Actually I was too weak in English before and I could never gather enough courage to read the English literatures. But my mentor believed in me that I can, because I followed his guidelines for long time and improved my English reading skill. So I started and surprisingly I’ve finished this book with 470 pages & 63 chapters within only two days!!! I am really happy for this. It’s an interesting book with full of love, emotions, science, failure, and betrayal and also the ultimate success of the characters.

And now I am here for wining another challenge writing the review on this famous book. So let’s start.

I hope it’ll be better if I give a short intro about the writer first.

Erich Segal was an American and a great classic writer who was born in June 16, 1937 in New York, U.S and died in January 17, 2010 at the age of 72 in London, England.

Though there are several famous books are written by Erich Segal but he gained more popularity and remembered as the famous writer for the romantic novel named “Love Story”, which stayed in The New York Times Best Seller list for 41 weeks, translated into 33 languages and has sold more than twenty-one million copies worldwide. This book has a sequel named Oliver’s Story.

In career life, Erich Segal was a professor of Greek Latin literature at Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University and also a supernumerary Fellow and an Honorary Fellow at Oxford University.

This great writer suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the last 25 years of his lifespan.

“The Death of Comedy” was his last major book, which was not a novel but a scholary work published in 2001.

So let me start writing about the novel “Prizes”.

Actually I am not a critic but a general reader. So I can’t present the analytical review on such an enormous book of a legendary writer like Erich Segal. I am just sharing my feelings and thoughts about the characters writer painted through the story line.

“Prizes” was written by Erich Segal in 1995 on the basis of three main characters Adam Coopersmith, Sandy Raven and Isabel Da Costa.

Writer created the separate world for each of them with a parallel connectivity, they never met each other but their ultimate desires matched and the ultimate prize was also identical. They were all the successful scientists in their own fields.

From these three characters mostly I am obsessed with Isabel, because somehow she resembles my childhood. I could feel her. Okay, I’ll explain about these later. At first let’s give you a little idea of two other characters.

Adam Coopersmith

In the opening of the book Adam Coopersmith was introduced as an immunologist who works with his mentor Dr. Max Rudolph in Harvard. Max Rudolph was more than just mentor, but was like a father to Adam. Together they researched and invented a vaccine for cancer treatment.

Before get the approval from FDA (Food and Drug Administration), they needed to use their drug unethically on the advisor of the president Thomas Hartnell saving him from cancer. There Adam met the daughter of Hartnell, Antonio (Toni) and they fall for each other.

That time suddenly the mentor of Adam, Max Rudolph left the world getting an accident. Adam became so empty and Toni was beside him to provide the mental support. They decided to marry.

For being together Toni left Washington, sacrificed her bright career opportunities for Adam. Because Adam could not leave his mentor Max’s lab, he wanted to keep his memory alive. They get married and have a beautiful baby girl, Heather. They were so happy first but day by day they just fall apart. Tony was too concerned about her career as a lawyer; she prioritized her job more than her family, husband and daughter. Heather was grown up with the love of her dad Adam only.

Actually don’t know why, from the first scene I could never like Antonio (Toni) for Adam, somehow I felt they are not made for each other, something is off between them. Adam was a great doctor to his patients as well as so caring dad to her daughter, but Toni was always absent minded to her husband and family.

One day Adam met with a Russian couple Anya Avilov and Dr. Dmitri Avilov, they came to Adam for consultancy. Anya was a doctor also and faced pregnancy problem, she was not capable to conceive a baby. For that reason her husband Dr. Dmitri Avilov abandoned her and Adam accepted her as a precious gift with all hearts to fill the loneliness of both of them. Adam and Toni divorced, Toni took Heather, but Heather was more connected with his Dad Adam and she liked Anya too.

Here though I liked all about Anya and Adam, I became happy about their togetherness, but I felt uneasy too on the perspective of our culture and society. Because to us marriage is the strongest relationship combined with love, respect, sacrifice, compromise, care and so on this never should break easily. We value this relationship more than anything else and can sacrifice anything for cope up with this till death.

Okay, let’s get back to the story.

Adam, Anya and Heather all were happy, but life became cruel to them suddenly. Adam is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he barely memorizes anyone or anything even he could not recognize his only daughter, Heather. It was so hard situation for all of them. He devoted his whole life in his lab and researched. He desired to get Nobel Prize for his mentor Max Rudolph, but sudden illness almost beat that dream. But this time his luck really favored, may be for his lifetime dedication for this achievement and Adam was elected to get the Nobel Prize.

But can you imagine what was happened then!!

Adam could not be able to accept that much accomplishment; may be that was too unbearable for his situation. And he fell from the roof, committed suicide!!

Life is so cruel, isn’t it!!

But you can be happy thinking that he just took his peaceful soul with him after getting the ultimate honor.

Sandy Raven

Sandy Raven! To me it’s the most confusing character writer drew here. I was bored reading about him, because I felt writer just messed up everything decorating his storyline. Please don’t misjudge me; I am just sharing my feelings. And I am planning to write little about Sandy’s story.

Sandy Raven is an introvert but a decent boy who is not happy with his look. Always he goes through the inferiority complex for that. His father, Sidney Raven was a Hollywood producer. Sandy liked a girl named Kim Tower (Rochelle) from his school life. And Rochelle used Sandy to enter Hollywood through his father and just forgot about Sandy. All his life Sandy just obsessed with this girl, but why!! Writer kept me vague about that, it’s a mysterious relationship to me.

After entering MIT to study Genetics, Sandy found a girl named Judy and they fall in love deeply. Judy was the daughter of Sandy’s mentor and laboratory director, Gregory Morgenstern. They got married and had a baby girl, Olivia.

Then Sandy betrayed by his mentor, Gregory Morgenstern and lost the chance getting Nobel Prize. This betrayal caused the divorce of Sandy and Judy.

Later Sandy met a Japanese woman, Kimiko with two babies; they fall for each other and get married. Sandy’s girl Olivia got chance at MIT in Physics and met with other main character Isabel Da Costa as her mentor.

Without getting the Nobel Prize, overall Sandy was successful enough with money, fame, family and also as a renowned geneticist.

Isabel Da Costa

Oh, at last I am back to this girl. Now let’s clear about my obsession over her with sharing her whole story.

Isabel Da Costa is a child prodigy here. After finding the specialty, her father, Raymond Da Costa started to imagine her as second Einstein and dreamed his daughter will be a great physicist and will win the Nobel Prize. And he just took full control over Isabel. Isabel was deprived of a normal childhood; she could not go to school or even could not play with his only brother, Peter.

Isabel wrote dairy everyday, she was upset about herself, shared thoughts through her writings. Little Isabel could not beat her father. She just bears all the expectations of her father in silence and studied. Isabel’s mother, Muriel tried to give her a normal life like other kids. Isabel Loved playing Piano, her mother wanted to make her a great pianist. But she was failed in front of Raymond’s strong desire.

Now let me share about my similarity with this super girl. Actually I was not a special kid like Isabel with extreme IQ, but my father dreamt so high surrounded by me and I could not lead a normal childhood like other kids. He wanted to see me at the peak of success. Before taking admission in a school, he started to teach me the English from class 7-8, all day long I needed to study for making him happy; I could never get the opportunity to play with other kids, always I just locked with my study table. It was all felt like a hell; I just wanted to betray my father in any way. But I was too good in Mathematics, I wanted to be an engineer; it’s all the credit of him. Because he is a Math teacher in his school and I learned Math from him.

For going through the identical childhood I felt Isabel with all my heart.

Get back to the Isabel’s story again.

Without going to any school, Isabel was elected for the college directly as the youngest student at the age of 13 according to her father’s wish. Raymond left the house with Isabel and rented a small apartment near college and start going to college and also doing the classes with Isabel. This man, Raymond just sacrificed his life for Isabel’s success.

Isabel met his desired destination, before eighteen years she completed her post graduate. Then she joined MIT having Phd degree and met her love Jerry, who was the son of Isabel’s Phd instructor. For the first time Isabel beat her father for Jerry. Jerry loved to play tennis and desired to win wimbledon. He was most supportive person to Isabel in every kind of situation.

Isabel’s mother Muriel divorced her father and gets married to Edmund! It was not feel good to me also. May be it’s too easy for them breaking the family, but I can’t accept that so easily!

At last Isabel invented a new theory of force and her thesis results conflicted with papers of other scientists and her advisor’s also. But Isabel’s calculation was accurate and accepted by different renowned Journals. She joined as the physics professor of MIT, selected for the Nobel Prize.

After getting all desired things, suddenly Isabel faced the bitter truth of her life. Her mother’s husband Edmund was sick badly, that time Isabel knew she is not even the daughter of Raymond, and her father is actually Edmund!

Isabel just felt helpless knowing that. Raymond was everything in her whole life, that man sacrificed everything for her who is actually not even his daughter!

And Edmund’s sickness was genetic; his doctor doubts that Isabel has the most probability to get that gene from his father. Edmund’s doctor was that Russian guy, Dimitry Avilov. He is definitely a villain here.

And after all the years, Raymond felt burdened and left Isabel wishing her a better life with Jerry.

Jerry was the only guy beside Isabel in this crisis moment. He even sacrificed his dream to win the wimbledon and stayed with Isabel and resolved all her problems.

This couple made me the happiest among all of the characters. I agreed for them, Isabel Da Costa and Jerry are made for each other and deserve all the happiness sticking together till death.

Okay, I tried to show you the overall scenario with short descriptions about main characters. Now let’s wrap up the whole story with sharing some personal opinion from me.

Actually when I’ve started reading this novel I thought that as a science-fiction, but the more I went deeper the more I became confused about the actual motive of the writer. More than scientific it felt like emotional storyline which leaded me to different belief. I was so curious and considerate that ultimately what message was given by the author.

After reading above quotes it was clear that main three characters were desired to get the Nobel Prize and sacrificed many things-

“Behind every Nobel Prize there is not merely a lab book, but a saga.

Of personal sacrifice, of pain, of disappointment, and rarely—very

Rarely—of unadulterated joy.”

But it was not the actual message I think. Last page of the book changed my notion. All the characters found real peace and happiness with the connection of heart, with sticking to each other.

They even sacrificed their success also (Jerry didn’t go for tennis) desired love, affection from their soul mates and wanted to be happy with their family over all the success.

I just shared my belief. May be you sense this novel in other way. You’ve the full freedom to see this from the different perspective of human life and desire.

All are okay, if we can be satisfied with a happy and peaceful soul inside us at the end of the day.

Khatun-A-Jannat Asha
This is Khatun-A-Jannat Asha from Mymensingh, Bangladesh. I am entrepreneur and also a media activist. This is my personal blog website. I am an curious woman who always seek for new knowledge & love to spread it through the writing. That’s why I’ve started this blog. I’ll write here sharing about the knowledge I’ve gained in my life. And main focus of my writing is about E-commerce, Business, Education, Research, Literature, My country & its tradition.

16 thoughts on “Prizes by Erich Segal- A Narrative of Human Desires

  1. Wow…. Very good writing apu. May be I read this before in bangla.. This type of story but i cant memories its name

  2. It was amazing to read. Just kept reading and reading. The characters are sometimes confusing but you cleared them very easily. Very good written review apu. Keep it up.

  3. This a long story you have written down apuni. So much beauitiful writing overall you have done here. Masha’Allah. Thank you so much for your flawless writing here apu.

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