Skip to main content

Raj Telhan

Raj Telhan is a physician and writer who works at the intersection of literature, medicine, and culture. His writing appears in VQR and the American Scholar. His honors include the Smith-Shanubi Scholarship at the New York State Writers Institute and the VQR Staige D. Blackford Prize for Nonfiction. Telhan studied Literature and Medicine at the University of Virginia, where he was a Crispell Scholar.


Illustration by Rachel Levit-Ruiz

The Patient Will See You Now

Winter 2022 | Essays

As a bookish child in the Pennsylvania suburbs, I won the school spelling bee without quite meaning to, startled and delighted to hear an adult with a microphone intoning aloud words I’d only read in books—it’s mis-led, not mizzled?—as though seeing in color for the first time. For my pains I was given a copy of Paideia, the workbook that formerly accompanied the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and told to start studying for regionals. (For the record, I never made it further than the state bee.) 

Hunger Games

Spring 2022 | Essays

Near the end of the hellish first year of the coronavirus pandemic, I was possessed by the desire to eliminate sugar—all refined sugar—from my diet. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best time to add a new challenge to the mix of mayhem that already seemed to rule my life.

Illustration by Lauren Simkin Berke


Fall 2021 | Essays

Is it possible to understand the persistent lag in vaccination rates as a function of failed metaphor? That is to say, as a failure of language—the language of data, the language of science, the language of political rhetoric (to name just a few vocabularies)—to meet individuals at their particular coordinates on the social map? The virus and our national response to it has been figured and refigured.

What Is Found There

Summer 2021 | Criticism

Unlike professional wellness culture, humanistic study can be a balm to the soul and giver of durable self-knowledge. But what would this self-knowledge look like in actual clinical practice? What would the hazards be?

© Carollynn Tice /

Begin Cutting

Fall 2015 | Memoir

Everywhere in the bleached walls of the laboratory—the sterile linoleum flooring, the burnished metal of dissection tables, the zippered white bags used to veil the dead, the gleaming instruments used to cut them open—I saw the landscape of a story into which I was being written.