ABOUT THE BOOK
“Dear Tess, we cut you up today.” So ends and begins the disturbing and provocative story of Tess, a third-year medical student whose compulsive desire to feel her patients’ pain leads her to destruct her own body by methods both horrific and creative. In this highly original medical thriller, Tess’s narrative intersects with similarly obsessive characters. As a result, the distinctions between fiction and reality, between art and medicine, are called into question. Without Anesthesia spans time periods and settings — from 1920’s Hollywood to late 1990’s New York — and culminates in an ending that Alfred Hitchcock himself would approve.
“Without Anesthesia is an original, sobering, and haunting visceral contemplation of love, anguish, morbidity, obsession, knowing and unknowability, the seen and the felt. The intense desire for intimacy and commune on the part of characters and readers evokes riveting anticipation and obsessive page-turning anxiety.”
— Mariam Beevi Lam, author of Precariat Reckoning: Viet Nam, Post-Trauma, and Strategic Affect3
“Without Anesthesia is a vivid, grotesque and whip-smart play with identity, where the simulations of appearance merge with the materialities of the body. Navab immerses the reader in the rich vocabularies of medicine and cinema; which is to say, the languages of the body’s beauty and decay, our obsessions and repulsions, life and death.”
— Rosalind Galt, author of Pretty: Film and the Decorative Image, and The New European Cinema: Redrawing the Map
“Without Anesthesia mobilizes an astoundingly rich and varied body of discourses — film theory, philosophies of aesthetics, medical sciences ranging from psychiatry to cardiology, even a history of excrement —deploying them in ways that transform our ideas about what the detective narrative is and what it might become in the future. Yet for all its learnedness, and the bevy of experimental techniques that resist conventions of narrative form and challenge readers’ expectations and comfort zones, Without Anesthesia gives us what has long been beloved about the most conventional, rewarding, and best of mystery novels: the desire to stay up late into the night and read so as to solve a puzzle that seems, at turns, within our grasp and then suddenly, once again, beyond it.”
— Nicole Rizzuto, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Georgetown University