Hospital by Sanya Rushdi

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In Melbourne a one-time research student with interests in philosophy and psychology is diagnosed with her third episode of psychosis. As she is moved from her family home to a community house and then to hospital, she questions the diagnosis of her sanity or insanity, as determined and defined by a medical model which seems less than convincing to her. Indeed questioning seems to be at the heart of her psychosis, in her over-active interpretations of signs and gestures, thoughts and emotions – and one understands these to be an expression of her intelligence, even if they seem illusory. She tells her story in a calm, rational voice, with an acute sense of detail and an objective air, as she wonders when the next psychotic episode will materialise, or if it hasn’t arrived already.

Based on real-life events, translated from Bengali by the award-winning Indian translator Arunava Sinha, Hospital is an extraordinary novel that portrays the experience of psychosis and its treatments in an unflinching and understated way, while struggling more broadly with the definition of sanity in our society.