Sunday, 27 October 2019

Escaping The Asylum by Siggy Galaen

Escaping The Asylum by Siggy Galaen
Published by Trollscape Press on the 17th June 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“This isn't the first psychiatric hospital I've been treated at. I've been transferred a few times before ending up here. However, I don't quite remember how it all started – it's a bit of a mental fog now, really. It is for this reason that I recently decided to start writing down my thoughts and elaborate on the situation here.“

“I think the patients, the psychiatrists, the Money Men and the Asylum Manager may have more in common than some of them would like to think. We all have a mental diagnose.”

Escaping the Asylum is a short novel about a psychiatric patient's view of the treatment within the Asylum and the attempts to escape it once and for all. It gives pointers to issues relevant beyond those of psychiatric institutions. The written form resembles a written diary but also the patient as the narrator through present observations and thoughts on various subject.

I wasn't initially sure how well I would get on with this unusual Norwegian novella. It's told in the first person by an unnamed narrator and we are thrust straight into their world without being given much in the way of description or background information. Within a few pages though, I found myself intrigued! Our narrator is in some kind of Asylum. It doesn't seem a particularly unpleasant place, but they are unsure of exactly how they came to be there or, indeed, how long they must stay. In trying to figure out for themselves what is going on, they gradually give the reader enough insight to understand too.

Escaping The Asylum is written in a gentle style that, for me, felt just like listening to someone telling me their personal story. I think it is worth mentioning that there are a sprinkling of grammatical errors such as the use of 'diagnose' for 'diagnosis' in the synopsis. I imagine this is due to the author writing in their second language and I actually found it didn't bother me - a surprise as I'm usually a stickler for proper English! In this case with the direct first person point of view though, the language idiosyncrasies add a layer of depth to the character which compensates for the otherwise deliberate anonymity.

I don't want to say too much about how Escaping The Asylum progresses because I think this is a story that is best appreciated without much in the way of forewarning. Certainly I appreciated it this way. I recommend it as fairly swift read for Black Mirror fans and folks who also enjoyed The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist or I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman. A thought-provoking and rewarding story.

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  1. That sounds like it would be an interesting read. Escaping a place like that and reading what they thought about it would be interesting.

    1. I enjoyed reading this unusual tale and, actually, it's one that's growing on me more as I think back over it. I'm considering upping that 3 star rating to a 4!

  2. It can be tricky to write in a second language or any that isn't your mother tounge! So I am always impressed with those that do. It sounds like it leaves you a little flailing in the beginning, but I am glad this story managed to suck you in for the most part.

    1. Absolutely so!
      I loved how the story veered in an unexpected direction