Histories by Sam Guglani
(Quercus, 2017)


by Sam Guglani

Histories is a hypnotic portrait of life in one hospital, over one week. In the corridors and consulting rooms, by the bedside, through the open curtain, we witness charged encounters within the emotional and physical world of medicine; old insecurities surface as Seb and Ben, junior doctors together from day one, try to save a man from dying; an enraged chaplain picks a fight with a consultant; a porter waxes lyrical on his invisibility. These are only some of the stories that so seamlessly connect, collide and create an unforgettable panorama of being. Sam Guglani’s vivid prose has the raw intensity of poetry; every page of this novel pulls you in.

Praise for Histories:

Histories is a gloriously written, spare and truthful work that is as generous as it is tough. For those of us with too much experience of being patients it offers great comfort - yes, our medical teams are exactly as human as we have long suspected. Guglani’s book suggests they know this of us too. This is where connection begins. - Stella Duffy, author of London Lies Beneath

Histories is a luminous argument for truly seeing and listening to others and to ourselves; it is a serious tilt at working out what matters, honed in places where people are tested by such questions every day. - Aida Edemariam, the Guardian

Spare and moving, Sam Guglani’s story about the disparate and desperate characters on an oncology ward shows the knowledge of a clinician and the soul of a poet” - Clare Black, The Scotsman


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, author of Six Facets of Light
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, surgeon and author of Direct Red
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, author of The Tidal Zone
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, author of The Mystery of Being Human
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, author of Fen
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, author of Rockadoon Shore
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, author of A Memoir of Faith and Doubt
With gentle acuity, Histories traces the connections that make up the life of a hospital, revealing it not as organisation but organism, with a shifting borderline between the sick and the well, those helping and those needing help. Sam Guglani has a poet's ability to halt you with a phrase, and a sharp eye for those moments when professional distance can't save us from our raw and tender shared humanity. ”
- Philip Gross, T. S. Eliot Prize Winning author of The Water Table
painful, beautiful, wonderful … a masterpiece… It speaks to and about everyone and about everything. Microcosms and macrocosms. Everyone should read it.”
- Emma Henderson, author of Grace Williams Says it Loud
Guglani’s compassion for the souls and bodies inhabiting his hospital makes this book much bigger than it appears. But Histories is not just heart – Guglani is the real deal. Some will describe him as a doctor-turned-writer. On the evidence of this remarkable debut, I would say he’s a writer who also happens to be a doctor.”
- Michel Faber