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Abi Palmer

"Exquisite... Sanatorium is a book about what it means to be alive"

sinéad gleeson
shortlisted for the barbellion prize

A young woman spends a month taking the waters at a thermal water-based rehabilitation facility in Budapest.

On her return to London, she attempts to continue her recovery using an £80 inflatable blue bathtub. The tub becomes a metaphor for the intrusion of disability; a trip hazard in the middle of an unsuitable room, slowly deflating and in constant danger of falling apart.

Sanatorium moves through contrasting spaces — bathtub to thermal pool, land to water, day to night — interlacing memoir, poetry and meditations on the body to create a mesmerising, mercurial debut.



Our price £9.99
RRP £9.99
224 pages
ISBN 9781908058713
Published 20 April 2020
Cover design: PITM


There is a dreamlike quality to Abi Palmer’s exquisite Sanatorium. In lucid, gorgeous prose, she tells the story of a body, of illness and of navigating the complicated wellness industry; but ultimately this is a book about what it means to be alive. A striking, experimental debut that will stay with me.
Sinéad Gleeson

Sanatorium is such an intricately structured book, combining memoir and poetry to hypnotic effect. Palmer creates a space entirely new and oddly familiar — embodied, startlingly direct and, by turns, claustrophobic and expansive. A prayer, a spell, a confession, a vision; the book morphs like the chronic pain it meticulously portrays with the clarity and confusion of an hallucination vs the confusion and clarity of life precisely observed with wit and intelligence. An urgent debut, alight with ideas — I loved every page.
Luke Kennard

I'm blown away... a sharp, original evocation of chronic pain, the strangeness of being in a body, and the incomprehension and sometimes cruelty of the able bodied.
Rebecca Tamás

[Palmer] brings the actuality of her physical pain vividly to life, communicating its texture viscerally and without pity.
Best poetry books of 2020 - Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian

The states of physical and metaphysical are so well drawn, they capture an essence of what it can be like to not be of this world while your body is firmly under the influence of gravity ... This is a beautifully constructed book full of important thoughts, lyrical poetry and prose, and stunning imagery that immerses the reader entirely.
Louise Kenward, Spooniehacker

Memoir and poetry in a mesmerising debut
David Nicholls

About the author

Abi Palmer is a mixed-media artist and writer. Her work often includes themes of disability, gender and multisensory interaction. Her artworks include: Crip Casino, an interactive gambling arcade parodying the wellness industry and institutionalised spaces, displayed at the Tate Modern and Somerset House; and Alchemy, a multisensory poetry game, which won a Saboteur Award in 2016. She has written for BBC Radio, The Guardian and Poetry London. Sanatorium is her first book.

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