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The Sickness

by Alberto Barrera Tyszka

Not the happiest of books as the central theme is 'sickness'! But in spite of this, it makes compulsive and moving reading. Dr Andres Miranda's father has terminal cancer and only weeks to live. The dilemma of whether to tell his father and how to cope with a very real and painful illness contrast powerfully with Andres's reaction to a patient who imagines himself to be ill and is sick with anxiety.

Extract

'Are the results in yet?' No sooner are the words out of his mouth than he regrets having spoken them. Andres Miranda wishes he could catch the question in mid-air and send it back where it came from, hide it away again beneath a silence. But he can't it's too late. Now all Andres has is the chief radiologist's face, his lips a knot in the middle of his mouth, his dark eyes like two stains, as he offers Andres a smile of strained sympathy and hands him a large brown envelope. The radiologist says nothing but his very expression is a judgement: multiple lesions suggestive of a metastatic disease, for example. That, more or less, is what the knotted lips are saying. Medical people rarely use adjectives, they don't need to.
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Parallels

I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson
Sick Heart River by John Buchan
 

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