• A nightmare vision of emotional instability and insanity... If Van Gogh or Munch had been novelists, or Strindberg a painter, they would have created similar mental landscapes... A work of fiction whose hold on the intellect is as strong as its grip on the senses: that sounds, looks, tastes and smells like a minor masterpiece

    Time Out
  • Brilliant... A Cruel Madness brings to mind other novels set in the microcosmic world of a hospital, Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    New York Times Book Review
  • With terrifying vividness, Mr Thubron creates a phantasmagoric world

  • A quietly extraordinary tour de force

    Times Literary Supplement
  • Colin Thubron conjures up, within a tight narrative, a whole persuasive world - not just the physical setting of the hospital, but the tortuous and paradoxical internal world of the warped mind

    Penelope Lively

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