Information about the author.
Recently having abandoned his RD Laing-influenced experiment in running a therapeutic community—the so-called Concept House in Willesden—maverick psychiatrist Zack Busner arrives at Friern Hospital, a vast Victorian mental asylum in North London, under a professional and a marital cloud. He has every intention of avoiding controversy, but then he encounters Audrey Dearth, a working-class girl from Fulham born in 1890 who has been immured in Friern for decades.
A socialist, a feminist and a munitions worker at the Woolwich Arsenal, Audrey fell victim to the encephalitis lethargica sleeping sickness epidemic at the end of the First World War and, like one of the subjects in Oliver Sacks’ Awakenings, has been in a coma ever since. Realising that Audrey is just one of a number of post-encephalitics scattered throughout the asylum, Busner becomes involved in an attempt to bring them back to life—with wholly unforeseen consequences. …[more]
Will Self is a novelist of world-class stature, an unparalleled literary craftsman with a ferocious insight. In How the Dead Live, he gives us his best and most important book yet, an incisive and troubling dissection of the spiritual emptiness and death in our culture.
Lily Bloom is an aging American in final-stage cancer in the Royal Ear Hospital in Central London. Not that there’s anything wrong with her ears—it’s just the only bed they could find for her. As her two daughters buzz around her and the nurses pump her full of morphine, Lily slides in and out of consciousness, outraged that there’s so little time left and so much hate still to go around. In her delirium she rails against everything, from the sins of those in the immediate proximity to the world at large, viewed through the lens of her paranoid bigotry. In the corner of the ward sits an impassive, middle-aged Aboriginal Australian…[more]