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Biblioasis Spring 2018

By (author): Alex Pheby
Alex Pheby





Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Apr 24, 2018
$19.95 CAD


8in x 5 x 0.5 in | 482 gr

Page Count:

248 pages
FICTION / Literary
A hallucinatory, fragmentary, and tragic fictional telling of one of the most famous psychotherapy cases in history, Alex Pheby’s Playthings offers a visceral and darkly comic portrait of paranoid schizophrenia. Based on the true story of nineteenth-century German judge Daniel Paul Schreber, Playthings artfully shows the disorienting human tragedy of Schreber’s psychosis, in vertiginous prose that blurs the lines between madness and sanity.

Alex Pheby was born in Essex and moved to Worcester in his early childhood. He currently lives in London, where he teaches at the University of Greenwich. His first novel, Grace, was published in 2009 by Two Ravens Press. His second novel, Playthings about the life of the Daniel Paul Schreber was published in 2015 in the UK by Galley Beggar Press. Widely acclaimed in media from the Guardian to the New York Times, and called "the best neuro-novel ever written" in the Literary Review, Playthings was shortlisted for the 2016 £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize.

Praise for Playthings

“[A] skillfully rich novel . . . A close third-person voice situates Playthings in an eerie place between a lived account of insanity and a careful observation of a mind’s unraveling . . . [A]gile and wily.”New York Times Book Review

“Marvellously surprising and vivid, something new. Somehow inside the shape of an old story he traces fresh experiences as if for the first time. The detail is so sensuously precise. Impressed as I haven't been by a new novel for a while.” —Tessa Hadley in the New York Times

“Bold... immersive... compassionate... [In Playthings], we are made to see a logic to Schreber’s psychosis and an illogicality and madness in the actions of the doctors and people around him... It is this humanizing aspect of the novel which is most valuable; we are reminded of the immense tragedy of his experiences of illness, experiences that are too often removed from the context of life.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“Intricate and intelligent...effectively transports readers into Schreber's experience and tragedy.” —Publisher's Weekly

“A highly detailed, emotional plunge into the mind of a disturbed man... An intense, immersive reading experience that provides real insight into those afflicted with severe mental illness.” Kirkus

“Throughout this compelling novel the space between reader and Schreber becomes a sombre reminder of how alone we all are.” The Guardian

“If Playthings is a neuronovel then it’s arguably the best neuronovel ever written, particularly in its depiction of memory and the instability of personality. But it transcends any such category and is simply a superb novel tout court, Kafkaesque in its nightmarish fluency and a powerful exposition of Kant’s celebrated view that ‘the madman is a waking dreamer.’”Literary Review

“A haunting new novel... [Pheby] doesn't merely relate Schreber's illness. He invites us to inhabit it - using prose that is both precise and beautiful. His disjointed prose conveys disordered thinking.” New Scientist

“Alex Pheby s novel Playthings, about one of Freud's patients, takes us inside the experience of delusion, turning perception upside down and the results are darkly comical as well as tragic.” The Psychologist

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