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128 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published June 2023
ISBN 9781922725455


Sanya Rushdi

Translated by Arunava Sinha

Shortlisted for The Stella Prize

A daring literary account of a young woman’s experience of psychosis by Bengali-Australian writer Sanya Rushdi.

In Melbourne a one-time research student with interests in philosophy and psychology is diagnosed with her third episode of psychosis. As she is moved from her family home to a community house and then to hospital, she questions the diagnosis of her sanity or insanity, as determined and defined by a medical model which seems less than convincing to her. Indeed questioning seems to be at the heart of her psychosis, in her over-active interpretations of signs and gestures, thoughts and emotions – and one understands these to be an expression of her intelligence, even if they seem illusory. She tells her story in a calm, rational voice, with an acute sense of detail and an objective air, as she wonders when the next psychotic episode will materialise, or if it hasn’t arrived already.

Based on real-life events, translated from Bengali by the award-winning Indian translator Arunava Sinha, Hospital is an extraordinary novel that portrays the experience of psychosis and its treatments in an unflinching and understated way, while struggling more broadly with the definition of sanity in our society.

SHORTLISTED: The Stella Prize 2024
LONGLISTED: Miles Franklin Literary Award 2024

An unflinching, insightful and delicately wrought work of autofiction that brings devastating lucidity to the often-opaque realm of mental health. Drawn from Rushdi’s own experience with psychosis, it is a novel that bucks the classic tropes and cliches, eschewing sensationalism and sentimentality in favour of an invitation to meaningful engagement and understanding.
Judges’ comments, The Stella Prize 2024

Hospital is a remarkable study of the self, and of the mind out of its mind. It is a descent not into madness, but into language. Language, in Rushdi’s novel, is the only thing with the power to heal, as well as that which stands between the self and others. In the hospital, meaning is never agreed upon. And yet the hospital emerges from its pages as a time, a place, and a psycho-social phenomenon. The book acts as a rare bridge into its world, told from the insider perspective of the patient. Thus Rushdi does what is nearly impossible, narrating the irrational mind without loss of insight. Hospital is a testament to art as translation and translation as art.
Eda Gunaydin

Rushdi’s brilliant novel offers privileged access to an unusually lucid mind at work. It is unadorned, powerful, and raises big questions about society, the self, and what passes for ‘sanity.’
Chris Fleming

It’s remarkable how quietly Hospital builds and how understated it is. The ground shifts, imperceptibly, and shifts over and again – and these profound unsettlements happen in the most ordinary, familiar places and exchanges: even these cannot be trusted, and there’s nothing left to which the self might be secured.
Fiona Wright

Possibly the best portrayal of psychosis I’ve read…While there is the creeping paranoia, the constant misinterpretation of basic social cues, the crushing, Kafkaesque absurdity of involuntary institutionalisation, and the constant battle raging over the need for medication, the real magic of this book is found in how Rushdi navigates it all…It all makes for an engrossing read; sweet, frustrating, surprising and always thought-provoking.
Bram Presser

Rushdi successfully plays with, and in the process, ruptures societal definitions of what constitutes a mental illness. That the narrative is written in the aftermath of her being institutionalised against her will, in a place that intentionally seeks to destroy any sense of clarity and selfhood, makes it all the more urgent.
Sonia Nair, Meanjin

With heart-wrenching precision, Rushdi’s poignant prose takes us on a journey that evokes both empathy and enlightenment…Rushdi’s raw and visceral depiction of [the character] Sanya’s journey leaves an indelible mark on the reader, reminding us of the unrelenting power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Shumaila Taher, The Federal

Hospital is not just an act of magnificent storytelling, it is a vehement plea to be heard, to be recognised, respected, cared for, and loved. It is a story of empathy, compassion, and warmth.
Ipshita Mitra, Feminism India

Rushdi’s novel is a provocation. Hospital is proof that language, and indeed writing, is an escape from our mental prisons.
Cher Tan, ABC Arts

Translucent and incisive…Hospital is exceptionally moving. It is a novel which lingers; it sticks to the skin. Weeks after finishing it, I return, repeatedly, to the fragments which arise in my memory.
Ellie Fisher, Westerly

A clear-eyed look at the role language plays in diagnosis, and asks what it means to be sane in a world that is anything but.
Mel Fulton, The Big Issue

Rushdi has managed to write an enduring piece of autofiction, a compelling account of psychosis that neither sensationalises nor withers away any sentimentality from the struggles of mental health.
Shahriar Shaams, The Daily Star

About the Author & Translator

Sanya Rushdi

Sanya Rushdi was born in Bangladesh and studied the biological sciences and psychology at Monash University, the University of Sydney and Deakin University. Hospital is her first novel. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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Arunava Sinha

Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and non-fiction from Bangladesh and India into English. He also translates fiction from English into Bengali. Over 70 of his translations have been published so far in India, the UK and the USA.

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Rushdi’s novel is a provocation. Hospital is proof that language, and indeed writing, is an escape from our mental prisons.

ABC Arts


SHORTLISTED: The Stella Prize 2024

LONGLISTED: Miles Franklin Literary Award 2024

Related News

Transcript: Sanya Rushdi at the launch of Hospital

‘I never thought I’d write a novel. But it’s the writing habit that I built up by keeping a diary, together with the help and encouragement of my beloved Tanvir Ahmed Chowdhury, my publisher and friend Bratya Raisu, and my friend Monzurul Ahsan Olee that led to the completion of the original, Bengali version of this novel called Hospital.’

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Sanya Rushdi: a note on Hospital

‘My PhD candidature in psychology at Deakin University had been confirmed, and I had just received Ethics Approval to begin my research. I went to my office as usual, but soon afterwards, started to suspect the everyday things that were happening around me. I had a strange feeling of fear, restlessness and suspicion that drove me out of my office.’

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