13,736 book reviews and counting...

The Octopus Man Reviews

The Octopus Man by Jasper Gibson

The Octopus Man

Jasper Gibson

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publication date: 21 Jan 2021
ISBN: 9781474616072

A devastating novel about voice-hearing - 'A brilliant and necessary book' Douglas Stuart, author of the Booker Prize-winning SHUGGIE BAIN

3 stars out of 5
Houman Barekat
16 Jan 2021

"This engaging novel evokes the radical politics of the anti-psychiatry movement"

 Somewhat surprisingly for a novel about mental health, there is relatively little interiority here – it’s mostly action and dialogue, delivered in brisk and lively prose. Sprinklings of gallows humour and dry bathos riff on the absurd human comedy of mental illness. (“I stand up and headbutt the television. It is crunchier than expected.”) The novel’s portrayal of mental health facilities is pointedly unflattering: during a stint in a psychiatric unit in north London, Tom witnesses staff using excessive force to subdue patients, and being trigger-happy with sedative injections; one of the nurses is secretly sleeping with a patient.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
16 Jan 2021

"Gibson’s novel contains an important message about the dangerous over-prescription of medication to the mentally ill"

Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest challenged conceptions of madness and treatment; ironically, it sharpened psychiatry’s determination to be taken seriously, to categorise and medicate trauma. But mass-medication is failing us all. Pre-pandemic, deprescribing was taking off. The Octopus Man points to a delicate third way between insanity and polypharmacy. You will be hooked, you will laugh and possibly cry. And you will know by page four that this hilarious and compassionate novel really matters