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Hospital [Paperback]

Toby Litt
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 5 April 2007 --  

Book Description

5 April 2007
This is the most extreme and extraordinary read of the year. From one of Britain's most brilliantly talented younger writers comes a novel you will never forget. Savagely funny and searingly original, "Hospital" is a journey to hell and back. Hospital - get well soon? Yeah, right.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241142806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241142806
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 13.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,070,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Toby Litt was born in Bedford and grew up in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He has worked as a teacher, bookseller and subtitler.

A graduate of Malcolm Bradbury's Creative Writing M.A. at the University of East Anglia, Toby is best-known for writing his books - from Adventures in Capitalism to (so far) King Death - in alphabetical order; he is currently working on L.

Toby edited Henry James's last novel The Outcry for Penguin Modern Classics. He was also the co-editor, with Ali Smith, of the British Council/Picador New Writing 13 anthology.

He is a Granta Best of Young British Novelist and a regular on Radio 3's The Verb. His story 'John and John' won the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize.

Product Description

About the Author

Toby Litt is the author of Adventures in Capitalism, Beatniks, Corpsing, deadkidsongs, Exhibitionism, Finding Myself and Ghost Story. He was named one of Granta's 20 Best of Young British Novelists, 2003.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would be better to have slept through it 18 Jan 2010
I am a big time fan of Litt so it's a shame to say that I don't think this is a very good book.

The book contains some fine imagery (the tree in the boy, the lift shaft) and in places some really first class writing (my favourite is the line about "a pilgrimage through hell") but ultimately as other reviews suggest the book has no real meaning other than just being /weird/ for the sake of it. Saying it's a dreamscape does not make the poverty of meaning any better.

An obsession with satan worshippers and ritual rape is crass but ultimately meaningless since there is no real horror evoked - the tone is more dreamlike so serious violence and violation do not seem sinister so much as bright, comic-booky and utterly unreal. This is a shame seeing as hospitals can make such bleak and nightmarish settings (think Solzhenitsyn's "Cancer Ward"). In fact, the book has little to do with hospital themes and is much more concerned with a bland theology contrasting a character living through their own coma and a gang of satanists that would seem one dimensional and motiveless even on daytime television. The whole impression feels very hackneyed since so many of the ideas are "old" often repetitive plot ideas - and those which are not really drawn with much commitment.

Why do the hospital staff worship Satan? They just do. The book has no more depth or commitment than that.

It all seems at times like it might have been intended as like a Kingdom Hospital farce (I am sure Litt must have had this in his mind since the comparison is so obvious and previous books have been full of references to literary precursors, e.g. Beatniks, Finding Myself) but since we already have the excellent Garth Merenghi's Darkplace, it seems a pale entertainment by comparison.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read 5 May 2007
Toby Litt's 'Hospital' is a mesmerising read. It begins like a comic mix of fairytale meets Mills & Boon, with its child protagonist running around Hospital - the author's emphasis is upon Hospital (an entity in its own right), not just a hospital (as in a building where sick people are taken) - worried about an apple seed in his stomach that is rapidly maturing into an apple tree, whilst all around him innocent nurses are swooning for hunky surgeons. But underneath all the superficial gloss, something darker is lurking, from a Black Mass in the hospital chapel, a voodoo ceremony taking place in the basement and immortality severely affecting various patients and inmates around the building (making the sick get better and bringing the dead back to life including, in one disturbingly macabre scene, the jars stored in Hospital's teaching wing...).

As a read, 'Hospital' is hypnotising and, for myself personally, one of those books that you find yourself going 'OK, I'll just read a couple more paragraphs...' and then realising that it's 2 hours later.

I also had the great pleasure in meeting Toby Litt recently when he came to perform a reading and Q & A session at my university; not only is he incredibly entertaining as a writer, he is also a remarkably adept storyteller in person and a thoroughly nice guy to boot! Check out his website at
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste 1 Jun 2010
Nothing can prepare you for the psychotropic mayhem that Toby Litt unleashes in Hospital for you. In fact in hyper-intellectualising the fiendish fantastical action that unfolds here too much is spoiling the fun. With all the freedom that this sub-genre of "coma" fiction gives him, we have Litt going full throttle at making the multi-storeyed institution of the sick come alive with so much well-being and life (of botanical and otherwise) after a Black Mass and a voodoo procession go horribly wrong (or right depending where you stand on these things) inside the annals of the building which presumably resides inside the annals of the subconscious of a subarachnoid-haemorrhage-recovering patient (who, just to make matters that much more icky is a key subject within his own vivid "dream vision"), that it will leave you gasping for breath and go "no kidding", besides the occassional laughter-roll.

The MAIN guy has-and this is strictly one of my many takes-during his coma, listened and taken a liking to a fairy tale about apple trees and a disobeying boy, and maybe because he's one of the insiders, the full blown fantasy that he subsequently conjures up has, besides a spectacularly detailed and architecturally coherent vision of the building, a wanton boy with an apple-seed tree sprouting from the navel running through never-ending corridors and elusively far-far-away main exits, even as the hospital gets surrounded by a fog of all-encompassing death fog. Much of the action in the main act relies on how gobsmacked you can be of sick and dead people getting whole and alive again, and how big a stomach you have for gratuitous violence on the written page. This is Grindhouse movies meeting Dean Koontz via nauseating amount of afternoon medical soaps and handshaking with Jose Saramago.
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2.0 out of 5 stars What? 12 Jun 2013
By Tim
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I, like some of the other reviewers, have no idea what the author was trying to do with this book. I thought I'd give it a go after reading Corpsing, which I enjoyed, but whatever he was trying to do with this, I don't think it worked. Its not funny, its not scary, its not engaging, its not a story.
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