Book Review: A descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams and forgotten pasts

Updated 01 August 2018
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Book Review: A descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams and forgotten pasts

  • Originally written in French in 1990, The Hospital fell into oblivion until Bouanani’s death in 2011
  • Bouanani’s novel is a descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams, forgotten pasts, mythological anecdotes, religious fervor, and unknown illness

Ahmed Bouanani’s complex but provocative novel The Hospital does not serve the living but the dead. When not being treated, patients wander the halls, interact, and attempt to navigate the expanse of the hospital while Bouanani’s nameless narrator writes down all he sees. Eventually, the line between their realities and nightmares fade, and the hospital gate disappears, making it a prison they can never leave. 

Originally written in French in 1990, The Hospital fell into oblivion until Bouanani’s death in 2011. It was not until 2012, when his novel was reprinted in France and Morocco, that it received great acclaim. It was translated into English by Lara Vergnaud and published by New Directions Books in 2018. 

Bouanani’s novel is a descent into an abyss of darkness, dreams, forgotten pasts, mythological anecdotes, religious fervor, and unknown illness. When Bouanani’s narrator first walks into the hospital, he assumes that he must have been alive because he can still “smell the scents of a city” on his skin. 

The narrator meets porters, shopkeepers, and unemployed patients. He meets smugglers and thugs and “the rejects of inexplicable wars and an aborted nationalist resistance, farm boys without land or bread, left behind by chance like febrile castaways with a cargo of off-seasons and coarse languages.” Nevertheless, the patients come together in Wing C, donning their blue pajamas and feasting together for their last remaining days. 

Bouanani’s text overflows with descriptions of Morocco’s landscape and the depth of its history with clarity in a text riddled with vague and dreamlike characters and their delusions and stories that are indistinguishable as real memories or fantasized pasts. 

The characters are reminiscent of the marginalized, says translator Vergnaud, and the forgotten, “first by a colonial regime and later a bureaucratic and oppressive new state.”

Bouanani’s novel seems like a Kafkaesque novel at first, but it is layered with decades of insight into social and political changes. 


Jazz Pharma’s sleep disorder treatment gets US FDA nod

Updated 44 min 59 sec ago
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Jazz Pharma’s sleep disorder treatment gets US FDA nod

  • The drug, solriamfetol, will treat excessive sleepiness in adult patients with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea
  • The patent of Jazz's narcolepsy drug, Xyrem, were declared invalid by a US appeals court in July
The US Food and Drug Administration approved Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc’s treatment for patients with a form of sleep disorder, the company said on Wednesday.
The drug, solriamfetol, will treat excessive sleepiness in adult patients with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Solriamfetol is expected to be commercially available in the United States following the final scheduling decision by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Jazz said in a statement.
The approval comes as Jazz is trying to reduce its reliance on its blockbuster narcolepsy drug, Xyrem, whose patents were declared invalid by a US appeals court in July.
Xyrem is an approved treatment for excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy in patients with narcolepsy. It brought in sales of $1.4 billion in 2018 and accounted for about 70 percent of company’s revenue.
“Jazz is trying to reduce its reliance on Xyrem, and solriamfetol will be one of the drugs it plans to launch to do that,” Mizuho Securities USA analyst Irina Koffler said ahead of the agency’s decision.
“Solriamfetol is expected to be an important driver of both diversification and growth,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky said in a note ahead of the approval.
Solriamfetol is expected to bring in revenue of $314 million by 2024, Stanicky said.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder with overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep, while obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that can cause breathing to repeatedly stop and start.
“Narcolepsy is very disabling to people as they often get diagnosed young and stop their education and drop out of high school or college,” Koffler said.
“Sleep apnea is a different problem in the sense that a lot of people don’t know they have it, have trouble breathing at night and they even fall asleep during the day.”