Guglani's novel is profound. His writing is poetic, his observations about the current state of medicine searing. But most importantly, this book is humane
This kaleidoscopic novella shows rare skill in its structure and balance. There are no heroes in Sam Guglani's hospital, only human beings from porters to consultants negotiating their own power and fear and morality
Histories is clear-eyed, unflinching, and tender, written in hypnotic, flowing prose designed to break your heart, mend it, then break it all over again. A huge accomplishment by Guglani, whose timely, hopeful debut feels like it's always been here. A deep-rooted, sky-reaching oak of a book.
This book lingered with me, I couldn't shake it. Quiet, breathless, beautiful, important. Read it, tell everyone else to read it, read it again.
It's the first book I've read that seems to capture the real feel of a hospital, with all its human chaos among both patients and doctors, the sense of ideals lost and painfully recovered, the search for meaning in illness and a constant striving to be brave. Only a practising doctor could have written so boldly and authentically.
Told with such subtlety that the reader is often ambushed by realisation as to the stories being told. Sam Guglani combines the insights and empathy of a doctor, a poetic vision, and an extraordinary capacity to ventriloquise the consciousness of others. An important voice has arrived, telling new and sometimes difficult truths about love and conflict, caring and not caring, sickness and health.
This is a slender book but it has colossal emotional weight. It does nothing less than reveal the complex human ecology of an NHS hospital. And it does it with devastating and searching compassion.
With gentle acuity, Histories traces the connections that make up the life of a hospital, revealing it not as organisation but organism, with a shifting borderline between the sick and the well, those helping and those needing help. Sam Guglani has a poet's ability to halt you with a phrase, and a sharp eye for those moments when professional distance can't save us from our raw and tender shared humanity.
Sam Guglani anatomises the inner workings of a teaching hospital with surgical precision and literary brio. This deeply humane depiction of life in the consulting rooms and on the wards marks an auspicious debut.
Guglani's compassion for the souls and bodies inhabiting his hospital makes this book much bigger than it appears. But Histories is not just heart - Guglani is the real deal. Some will describe him as a doctor-turned-writer. On the evidence of this remarkable debut, I would say he's a writer who also happens to be a doctor.
"Many times man lives and dies / Between his two eternities:" says Yeats, but for the physician, the cycle becomes infinitely more complicated: for if, as Donne declares, "every man's death diminishes me" then, as Sam Guglani points out, with elegance, compassion, sadness and, occasionally, justifiable anger, the cost of taking, recording, interpreting and bearing witness to so many 'histories' - of life, of diminishment, of death - should compel, not only the medical profession, but also the world at large, to ask the most basic questions about the rift between the duty of care and the accepted norms of medical practice.
For and in the prose, and for and in the people, care is the thing here. There's a tenuity to Sam's writing that makes us face that, and it's the book's strength.
Histories is a gloriously written, spare and truthful work that is as generous as it is tough. For those of us with too much experience of being patients it offers great comfort - yes, our medical teams are exactly as human as we have long suspected. Guglani's book suggests they know this of us too. This is where connection begins.
This original, thoughtful and insightful novel by oncologist Sam Guglani gives us a first-hand account of life at the heart of the NHS
Histories offers a rare and poetic insight into the medical world from an unusual doctor/writer talent
Economical, emotionally involving, insightful and rather beautiful . . . A luminous argument for truly seeing and listening to others and to ourselves; it is a serious tilt at working out what matters, honed in places where people are tested by such questions every day.
Histories focuses on the humanity, or sometimes the awful lack of it, at the heart of a hospital . . . his characters feel authentic and multifaceted as they chart the chaos. Their narratives offer stunning descriptions of the human condition and our fear in the face of mortality . . . Vibrant and captivating
It's the wisest book I've read in a long time and the writing is so beautiful - there were many times I had to stop reading, just to catch my breath. Reading Histories was not only a total joy, but a complete privilege.
There is something meditative about Guglani's spare, poetic prose. And unsettling too. It stays with you long after the book is finished . . . It's the poeticism of his prose that renders this novel so poignant and evocative . . . As moving as it is illuminating
Scalpel-sharp . . . A highly compulsive panorama of hospital life as a cauldron of guilt and suppressed desire
Remarkable and full of grace. It broke my heart.
He focuses on the humanity of his characters, portrayed without judgment or criticism, which leaves the reader sympathising with even the most pompous individuals. Told in sparse, poetic prose, Histories is thought-provoking, unsettling and deeply affecting.