Histories by Sam Guglani
(Quercus, 2017)


by Sam Guglani

Histories is a hypnotic portrait of life in one hospital, over one week, where we witness charged encounters within the emotional and physical world of medicine, as characters go through the motions of their everyday existence: Dev, a consultant physician, prepares for his morning clinic; Jane, a hairdresser and patient, lulls in and out of consciousness; old insecurities surface as Seb and Ben, junior doctors together from day one, try to save a man from dying. These are only some of the stories that so seamlessly connect and collide. It’s an unforgettable panorama of being. Sam Guglani’s prose has the raw intensity of poetry; every page of this novel sucks you in and demands intense emotional investment.


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. ”
- Ann Wroe
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.”
- Dr Gabriel Weston
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.”
- Sarah Moss
Histories is 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”
- Raymond Tallis
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.”
- Daisy Johnson
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. ”
- Rory Gleeson
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”
- Richard Holloway