Blurb (as on Goodreads):
Shadowing an elderly librarian on his first day at the great Central Library, Máximo is thrilled to get a peek at the exclusive Encyclopedia of Medicine. It’s a dizzying collection of maladies: an amnesia that causes everyone you’ve ever met to forget you exist, while you remain perfectly, painfully aware of your history. A wound that grows with each dark thought or evil deed you commit but shrinks with every act of kindness. A disease that causes your body to imitate death, stopping your heart, cooling your blood. Will the fit pass before they bury you-or after?
As Máximo soon discovers, medicine at the Central Library may be more than he bargained for.
The Afflictions is a magical compendium of pseudo-diseases, an encyclopedia of archaic medicine written by a contemporary physician and scientist. Little by little, these bizarre and mystical afflictions frame an eternal struggle: between human desire and the limits of bodily existence.
Books with bizarre themes are my kryptonite and The Afflictions was just that.
Maximo lands into a library and is fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the Encyclopedia of Medicine. This is a series of books that collect names and details of diseases from all over the world, collected by physician-philosophers and meticulously preserved by monk-like people on a special parchment paper.
But what Maximo finds here are strange diseases, not normally known otherwise. A few examples include- a disease where others forget any and every memory of the afflicted, or disease where babies are born one after the other- it only needs one impregnation to trigger this disease. There are other bizarre diseases that involve the transfer of illness from one person to other through a discarded thought, or deafness that brings pain whenever there is any kind of sound or a wound that will heal only if one practices the virtue of kindness.
Maximo is a shadow or a scaffold for the readers to enter this world of insane ailments and random cures. The author, being a physician himself has described the diseases as scientifically as possible, but the lines also have the ability to engage the reader.
The description of each of the indispositions is kept short and to the point, which is another plus for a reader who is not looking for paragraphs repeating the same line. The theme is unique and has been supported by crisp and indulgent writing skills.
While they might seem like pseudo-diseases, the author has also tried to show us the different faces of mankind, the kindness, and the struggles, the mindset that leads to these conditions. These diseases are intricately linked to society and their behavior.
‘The Afflictions’ stands out from the ordinary, but not only because of the theme but the execution and ease with which it helps the readers absorb every detail.