Review: Hospital of the Transfiguration

Hospital of the Transfiguration
Hospital of the Transfiguration by Stanisław Lem
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this is a great book … not “great” as in just “good”, but this should be up there in the category of “proper literature”. This is the first book by Stanislaw Lem that I’ve read that wasn’t science fiction in theme, but like all of his work, he tries to push the conventions, and succeeds wildly here.

The story is set as Poland is being invaded by Germany, and follows a young, disaffected Polish doctor as he goes to a family funeral and ends up staying in the area to practice at a rundown psychiatric hospital. The novel is about everything he sees there and his interactions with both patients and staff, and how it changes him.

Lem’s writing is often obtuse to the average reader, but I’ve always found it enlightening, even if it has been translated into English; there’s an extra layer of detail and feeling that comes from writing under a different social system that is intriguing. I think that’s why I also enjoy so many Nordic authors as well. Like Lem, their works have a structure with a different rhythm than an Western/English writer.

I’d definitely recommend this one to any reader.

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