The author of 12 books, Sacks helped the general public better understand the nature of neurological disorders. His book Awakenings was turned the 1990 Academy Award–nominated film of the same name starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.
Originally from London, England, Sacks immigrated to the United States after earning a medical degree at Oxford. He wrote regularly for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. In a 2010 New Yorker article he detailed his struggle with “face blindness,” the inability to remember the faces of even those closest to him.
Sacks was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize and the Wingate Prize, was an honorary fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named a Commander of the British Empire.
“It is hard to express the sense of loss we feel around such a great man’s passing,” said Louise Dennys, executive publisher of Random House of Canada, Sacks’ Canadian press, in a release. “He was beloved for his remarkable empathy and his kindness, which, combined with his shining intelligence, brought him so closely in tune with the world around him. His curiosity was endless – thankfully, given the life-changing implications of his work for many people – and it embraced patients with the most unusual neurological disorders as well as the smallest fern in the forest: the whole world was his purview and he listened closely to all of it. And because such a great doctor happened to also be a beautiful writer, his books have opened up our world to us in startling, amazing and wonderful ways. ”