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'As compelling as a thriller-Mr Thubron has hit that most disturbing target, the target of imaginative truth' Nina Bawden, Daily Telegraph

When a part-time worker in a mental hospital meets his old girlfriend inside he is not sure at first is she is a patient. Their reunion is haunted and haunting, and from the memory of their past affair there unfolds a labyrinth which darkens from romantic obsession to feelings deeper and more disturbing. Colin Thubron creates a world of passion, delusion, and reality mingling with unreality, the all-enveloping sense of longing and of loss.


A nightmare vision of emotional instability and insanity-If Van Gogh or Munch had been novelists, or Strindberg a painter, they would have created similar mental landscapes-A work of fiction whose hold on the intellect is as strong as its grip on the senses: that sounds, looks, tastes and smells like a minor masterpiece

Time Out

Brilliant-A Cruel Madness brings to mind other novels set in the microcosmic world of a hospital, Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

New York Times Book Review

With terrifying vividness, Mr Thubron creates a phantasmagoric world


A quietly extraordinary tour de force

Times Literary Supplement

Colin Thubron conjures up, within a tight narrative, a whole persuasive world - not just the physical setting of the hospital, but the tortuous and paradoxical internal world of the warped mind

Penelope Lively

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Formats & editions

  • A Cruel Madness
    Colin Thubron



    January 3, 2005


    176 pages

    RRP $19.99

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