Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story  by Gabriel  Weston
(Jonathan Cape, 2009)

Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story

by Gabriel Weston

How does it feel to hold someone’s life in your hands? What is it like to cut into someone else’s body? What is it like to stand by, powerless, while someone dies because of the incompetence of your seniors? How do you tell a beautiful young man who seems perfectly fit that he has only a few days left to live?

Gabriel Weston worked in the big-city hospitals of the twenty-first century; a woman in a world dominated by alpha males. Her world was one of disease, suffering and extraordinary pressure where a certain moral ambiguity and clinical detachment were necessary tools for survival. Startling and honest, her account combines a fierce sense of human dignity with compassion and insight, illuminating scenes of life and death the rest of us rarely glimpse.


  • PEN/Ackerley prize 2010 (Winner)
  • Guardian First Book Award (Nominated)


Visceral but stunningly written account of life as a female surgeon in a big city hospital... Turn off those 'ER' repeats and read this instead.”
- Bookseller
It is a rare skill for a doctor to be able to communicate this rich sensorium in writing. It is a delight to read the words of one who does it so well. ”
- The Economist
It's the combination of poetry and banality, at one moment touched with etherised strangeness, the next up to its elbows in blood, guts and ethics, that makes this book ring true. ”
- Guardian
I can't remember reading a book that absorbed me so completely, that was so riveting and yet so exact, that so cherished the beauty of language even when using it to convey the ugliest extremes of disease.”
- Observer
In bringing us a front-line report from an often alien territory, she does for the practise of surgery what Anna Funder in Stasiland did for East Germany. I hope the judges of the Samuel Johnson Prize are taking note.”
- Telegraph