The Sleeping Beauties by Suzanne O'Sullivan is Hay Festival Book of the Month for July, continuing the Festival's campaign to celebrate and ignite conversation around new books that have particular resonance for us right now.
Sleeping sickness, strange behaviour and mass hysteria... In The Sleeping Beauties, neurologist Suzanne O'Sullivan explores 'psychosomatic illnesses', travelling the world collecting fascinating stories of culture-bound syndromes.
Inspired by a poignant encounter with the sleeping refugee children of Sweden, the Wellcome Book Prize-winning writer visits other communities who have also been subject to outbreaks of so-called ‘mystery’ illnesses. From a derelict post-Soviet mining town in Kazakhstan, to the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua via an oil town in Texas, to the heart of the Maria Mountains in Colombia, O’Sullivan hears remarkable stories from a fascinating array of people, and attempts to unravel their complex meaning while asking the question: who gets to define what is and what isn’t an illness?
Reminiscent of the work of Oliver Sacks, Stephen Grosz and Henry Marsh, The Sleeping Beauties is a moving and unforgettable scientific investigation with a very human face.
The neurologist joins us live online 22 July at 7pm while signed copies are available to buy in the Festival shop.
Hay Festival’s Book of the Month is selected by the festival team in Hay-on-Wye and aims to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Titles are sold in the UK through the festival’s online shop, as well as being available in all good libraries and bookshops.
Find out more about Hay Festival’s Book of the Month here or explore #HBOTM on social.