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Have a Heart

It is the month of May, the year, 1998, the place, Lincoln Center. Ali and his mother attend the premiere of the ballet Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House, where Anna, the Russian ballerina, is making her American Ballet Theatre debut as Odette/Odile. While dancing in the ballet, suddenly and unexpectedly, Anna, the Swan Queen, collapses, and the story begins.

The next day, Dr. Ali is called to consult on Anna. He finds her in heart failure due to weakness of her heart muscle. Anna undergoes a barrage of tests and is crushed that her dancing days are over. During Anna’s hospital stay, and subsequently, Anna and Ali, take a liking to each other and when her heart condition improves, they became lovers.

Several months later, Ali meets Nancy, an investment analyst who works at the World Trade Center. He remains torn for his concern for Anna’s health and his blossoming relationship with Nancy.

In Have A Heart, Gomes explores the intertwined romantic and professional lives of three individuals, a torpid romance between a patient, Anna, and her doctor, Ali, the clash of cultures, the political upheavals of our times, the tribulations of waiting for a heart transplant, and the search for inner truth.

Author: Antonio Gomes
Paperback : 328 pages
ISBN-10 : 1947175270
ISBN-13 : 978-1947175273

About the Author

António Gomes, also known as J. Anthony Gomes, is a Professor of Medicine at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, NYC. He has published extensively in Medicine including two textbooks of Cardiology, Signal Averaged Electrocardiography: Basic Concepts Methods and Application (Kluwer Academic Press, London/Amsterdam, 1993) and Heart Rhythm Disorders: History, Mechanisms and Management Perspectives (Springer-Nature, 2020). He has also published articles in the humanities in anthologies, books, newspapers, and magazines; two books of poetry entitled Visions from Grymes Hill (Turn of River Press, Stanford, Connecticut, USA, 1994) and Mirrored Reflections (GOA 1556 and Fundacão Oriente, 2013); and a novel, The Sting of Peppercorns (GOA, 1556 & Broadway Books, 2010); 2nd edition, Amaryllis, New Delhi, India, 2017) and Nas Garras Do Destino, published in Portugal and Brazil in May 2019 by Chiado Editora, Brake Media, Lisbon, Portugal.

Have a Heart by Antonio Gomes is a dazzling story of Anna, an elegant ballerina who succumbs to a heart ailment, and of Ali, the young doctor who is smitten while treating her. Anna’s adherence to her Russian culture attracts and mystifies Ali, a Muslim of Pakistani and Indian parentage, while her heart ailment comes in the way of their love affair. Ultimately, Ali marries an all-American beauty, an investment analyst working in the World Trade Center. This is the setting for a beautiful tale of the human heart, both in its capacity for passion and in the precise physical details of how it works to keep us alive. Gomes writes of radiant moments in life just as he meditates wisely on its loss in death. A celebrated cardiologist, he sees the living world as a physician and feels it as a poet.

—Grace Schulman, author of six exclaimed books of poetry including, The Broken String and Without A Claim and winner of the Frost Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry . Her recent memoir is Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage. She is currently Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y.

Intoxicating and authentic, Antonio Gomes’ great gift to readers is Have a Heart. Gomes, a cardiologist as well as a masterful author, writes an expertly plotted and lyrically-fierce prose; a rare combination. We meet Ali, a young Muslim cardiologist, who finds himself caught between the lovely Anna, “half-bird, half-woman; her shimmering feathers taper off in orange-speckled flames,” a Russian ballerina who desperately needs a heart transplant, and Nancy, an all-American girl whose parents view Ali’s religion as not quite suitable. Add to this a fellow doctor’s theft of the fruits of Ali’s research, and then the blue sky September day arrives when planes crash into the Twin Towers. Applying a breathtaking realism, Gomes beautifully describes a heart transplant, the operation almost resembling a ballet of the hands with skilled arabesques and pirouettes. We watch the donor heart engorge with blood. We wait for it to beat. Have a Heart is a tour de force, passionate, deeply felt, and so gripping that the midnight reader hardly notices the pages turning until dawn breaks the writer’s spell.

—Stephanie Emily Dickinson, author of more than 9 books including Half Girl, Love Highway, Lust Series, Corn Goddess, Road of Five Churches, Port Authority Orchids and founding editor of Rain Mountain Press

Dr. Gomes is a renaissance man—a physician, poet, and writer. In this, his novel about the intersection of a heart transplant surgeon’s professional and love lives, he combines a fascinating, gracefully-rendered knowledge of medical technology with an understanding of the vagaries of romance. The story rests on the frail shoulders of characters who are realistic and flawed, and its overlay of cultural conflict adds a depth that is especially poignant in our times. Readable, relatable, and life-affirming—two thumbs up.

—Susan O’ Neal is the author of Don’t Mean Nothing— the first book by a nurse who served in Viet Nam gives a glimpse into the war from a female perspective.

We all strive for something we can’t seem to attain until that pivotal moment we finally understand what it is we truly want, then the way forward becomes clear. Ali, a successful transplant cardiologist, is in crisis—of career, of love, of faith—and each unfolding opportunity that would seem to lead him to his heart’s desire only results in obstruction, frustration and eventually tragedy. But, as Ali discovers, catastrophe is often the very catalyst that forces a change of perspective by way of circumstances we never requested to set us on the path we were always meant for. Gomes’ fast-paced journey through the human condition, as viewed through the fascinating world of transplant medicine, is fundamentally a love story—love of self, of others and the human journey. With an unexpected but satisfying ending Have a Heart, above all else, offers hope emerging from darkness that expands well beyond the pages of this novel.

—Laurin Bellg, MD, author of Near Death in the ICU

Have a Heart is a novel that ambitiously embraces many worlds. Ali, the protagonist, carries the layered baggage of an Asian family that has made its way to the American dream; their multiple religious and cultural affiliations play tug of war with Ali’s loyalties as he goes about making sense of life, forming relationships and carving for himself a high niche in the profession of Cardiology. The novel offers us a heady sip of the intensely competitive field of medicine, where the highly specialized and noble task of saving lives goes hand in hand with research and the aggressive demands of institutional bureaucracy. We are invited to the exacting realm of ballet, as Anna is deprived of her brilliant career as a ballerina from the erstwhile Russian socialist republic when her heart plays tricks on her. Nancy, warm hearted, from the world of business, coping with her own demons, completes the love triangle as these central characters engage viscerally in matters of the heart, life and death. The interconnected worlds of culture, religion, career, family and politics are vivid spaces that often collide in this novel. Dr. António Gomes threads confident ground as he skillfully crafts Have A Heart, after the well-received The Sting of Peppercorns. A brilliant cardiologist, he is an acknowledged novelist and writer of the literary essay.

—Dr. Isabel Santa Rita Vaz, author of Frescoes in the Womb and 40 plays. She is the founding member of The Mustard Seed Art Company and Guest Faculty at Goa University, India.

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