Samuel ShemAbout The Authors


Samuel Shem’s classic novel about a medical internship, The House of God, was recently named by the British medical journal The Lancet as one of the two most important American medical novels of the 20th century. It has sold over two million copies, in thirty languages. Newsweek listed it in 1999 as “the novel to read about becoming a doctor.” The sequel, Mount Misery, about psychiatric residency at a mental hospital of that name, has been called “another medical classic,” and, by The Boston Globe, “outrageously funny, a sage and important novel by a healer and a Shakespearean.” Shem is also the author of Fine, The Spirit of the Place, and The Missing Girl.

With his wife, Janet Surrey, he is the author of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a play about the relationship between the two men who founded Alcoholics Anonymous, which was named one of the “ten best plays” of the season in San Diego, is published and represented by Samuel French. The play was an Off-Broadway hit with 148 performances at the New World Stages in 2007. Shem and Surrey were awarded the 2007 Performing Arts Award by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Shem has been honored as one of Boston Public Library’s “Literary Lights,” as one of “Boston’s Best Authors,” and as a speaker at the Hemingway Centennial Celebration at the JFK Library. He has received the Vanderbilt University Medal of Merit. As “Dr. Stephen Bergman”, he has given the commencement address at over fifty medical schools, has spoken around the world on “How to Stay Human in Medicine,” and has published a noted essay, “Fiction as Resistance” (Annals of Internal Medicine 2002). Shem, in blurbs for his novels, has been referred to as “the comic genius and the holy terror of medicine,” “Rabelaisian,” and “the raucous and insightful physician of the soul.”


Janet Surrey, PhD is an Insight Dialogue Teacher. She is a faculty member of Metta’s Relational Insight Meditation Program, facilitates a practice group in the Boston area, and co-teaches retreats.

Jan has studied with a number of Vipassana teachers for over 25 years, and has worked with Gregory Kramer since 2007. Her original teacher was Vimala Thakar, but Jan has also done many retreats with Thic Nhat Hanh and Joanna Macy. In 2008 she completed a two and a half year Community Dharma Leader training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

Jan is a practicing clinical psychologist and founding scholar of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She is on the faculty and board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Jan is dedicated to a lifelong exploration of the power of relationships to create suffering and the power of relationships to liberate and transform suffering.

Shem and Surrey are also authors of a nonfiction book, We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men (1999, Basic Books) which received the 1999 Paradigm Shift Award of the Boston Interfaith Counseling Service, and a curriculum for middle/high school students, Making Connections: Building Gender Dialogue and Community in Secondary School(2007, Educators for Social Responsibility).