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Part memoir of Grant's late brother, part history of epilepsy: ‘An extraordinary work of love and art, which left me choked with tears' Observer

One day Colin Grant’s teenage brother Christopher failed to emerge from the bathroom. His family broke down the door to find him unconscious on the floor. None of their lives were ever the same again. Christopher was diagnosed with epilepsy. In A Smell of Burning Colin Grant tells the remarkable story of this strange and misunderstood disorder. He shows us the famous people with epilepsy like Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc and Vincent van Gogh, the pioneering doctors whose extraordinary breakthroughs finally helped gain an understanding of how the brain works, and, through the tragic tale of his brother, he considers the effect of epilepsy on his own life.

Reviews

[A] brilliant, tender book… An extraordinary work of love and art, which left me choked with tears.

Maggie Gee, Observer

A moving memoir as well as a historical study of epilepsy… With verve and sensitivity, Grant tells the stories of individual sufferers.

James McConnachie, Sunday Times, Book of the Year

Grant’s exploration of the literary, political, medical and scientific history of epilepsy is hugely compelling; his telling of the story of two brothers transcends the book’s twin genres and leaves us with a wry, gentle masterpiece.

Seamus Sweeney, Times Literary Supplement

A fascinating personal and historical account. *****

Helen Brown, Sunday Telegraph

A flawless amalgam of personal memoir, mind science and medical history.

Ian Thomson, Spectator

In writing A Smell of Burning… Grant may yet save more lives as a writer than he did as a doctor.

Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph

As a memoir of Christopher’s trajectory of illness it is tenderly expressed, and the book is a poignant evocation of grief and regret.

Gavin Francis, Guardian

He brings a core of expert knowledge and skill as a communicator to the story… [An] absorbing and sometimes horrifying tale.

John Gribbon, Literary Review

At its best is like the works of other medics-turned-authors Atul Gawande and Henry Marsh.

Tom Whipple, The Times

[Grant] helps us gain an eminently accessible insight into a world that…is still shrouded in mystery. It is a touching tale of brotherly love.

Helen Davies, Sunday Times

[A] moving memoir.

Sarah Stacey, Daily Mail

An enthralling and eclectic account.

Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller

A readable and informative book that should help to lay to rest some of the many misconceptions about the condition.

Kate Whiting, Scotsman

A brilliant evocation of a young man’s difficult relationship with a stigmatized disease.

Suzanne O'Sullivan, Lancet

A scholarly yet highly readable account of the history of – as well as current thinking on – epilepsy.

Tony Gould, Oldie

Thanks to A Smell of Burning we are encouraged to put into question our own perceptions of what constitutes balance and harmony, in our brains, our minds, and the world around us.

Dr Maria Vaccarella, British Medical Journal

An informative book that will hopefully encourage readers to show more empathy.

Natalie Bowen, Northern Echo

Fascinating, moving and deeply personal.

Bookseller

Written by a former medic whose younger brother was an epileptic, this is a superb personal and historical account of the effect the condition has on the lives of sufferers and those around them

Daily Telegraph

This is a sharply poignant and sad memoir. It’s also a brilliant historical and medical analysis.

William Leith, Evening Standard

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099597872

    August 15, 2017

    Vintage

    256 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9780224101820

    September 15, 2016

    Jonathan Cape

    256 pages

    RRP $37.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781473511552

    August 25, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    256 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Colin Grant

Bageye at the Wheel
I & I: The Natural Mystics
Negro with a Hat: Marcus Garvey

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