cover image Hospital


Han Song, trans. from the Chinese by Michael Berry. Amazon Crossing, $24.95 (414p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3947-5

Song’s English-language debut delivers a long, twisted descent into madness and despair. Yang Wei becomes ill while traveling to C City on business, fainting and then waking up to hotel employees telling him he’s been unconscious for three days and that they’ve arranged for him to be taken to the hospital. Yang has always had a weak constitution, so he’s no stranger to hospitals—but C City’s hospital is like none he’s ever seen. He’s shuffled through the filthy, wildly overcrowded space by some unfollowable logic and given no information on his status. (“What’s wrong with you?” the surgeon asked. “That’s not something the patient needs to know. Your illness is the hospital’s business.”) As the waiting and bureaucracy drag on, the other patients preach total, unwavering faith in the system, having fully acclimated to hospital routine. When Yang, his own mind now faltering, is finally taken in for treatment, he learns that the hospital subscribes to a philosophy hailed as the “glorious new Age of Medicine”—which has terrifying roots. Though the amount of technical medical terminology may overwhelm casual readers, this dystopian tale skillfully balances delusion, disillusionment, and disdain. Readers are in for a dark, difficult trip down the rabbit hole. Agent: Jennifer Lyons, Lyons Agency. (Jan.)