Sanatorium, The

Małgorzata Saramonowicz
Sanatorium, The
  • W.A.B
    Warsaw 2005
    127 x 201
    216 pages
    ISBN 83-7414-109-3
    Translation rights: Małgorzata Saramonowicz

This time Małgorzata Saramonowicz, who wrote the bestseller The Sister, combines several novel-writing conventions. In The Sanatorium we find a crime plot, some elements of fantasy and an interesting picture of post-war reality. Saramonowicz has composed the plot with precision, juxtaposing various time scales and settings. The main character, Jan, arrives at a sanatorium for consumptives and encounters The Investigator, whom he first met thirty years earlier. In those days they were both mixed up in the case of a murder that was never fully explained. Years on, they take on a psychological game aiming to discover the truth about the case. At the same time Jan’s memory reverts to events that happened in a small town after the war. The place is special, because, as one of the novel’s main characters states, the little town is “sick”, inhabited by life’s flotsam, people who have been damaged by the war, or destroyed by The Plenipotentiary and his men, who are “consolidating the people’s power”. Jan too is damaged, and escapes from the terrible reality into a world of dreams and fantasy, into a realm inhabited, besides himself, by the living and the dead, angels and demons.
The Sanatorium is a novel about struggling with a traumatic memory and about the end of a particular world that has been swept away by the turmoil of war. It is a superbly written novel, rounded off with a surprising message, and is full of images that stir the imagination.
Robert Ostaszewski