Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas: Heartbreaking and hilarious

Book review: Adam Kay is back with more fascinating true stories from hospital

 Adam Kay has written a second book about his life as a junior doctor.   Photograph:  Tim P Whitby/Getty Images

Adam Kay has written a second book about his life as a junior doctor. Photograph: Tim P Whitby/Getty Images

Between 2004 and 2010, when Adam Kay was working as a junior doctor – saving lives, delivering babies, clocking 97-hour weeks – he was also, unbeknownst to himself, writing a bestselling book. (I’m sure there are many among us who are waiting for the same to happen: a bestseller to emerge unbidden, like a tooth we’ve been grinding at in our sleep.) Still, This is Going to Hurt, made up of diary entries recorded during Kay’s non-existent spare time, was deserving of its accolades. Its merits are listed on the jacket of his newest release, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, a title equally deserving of high praise. “Hilarious”. “Hilarious”, “Hilarious”, “Hilarious”, “Hilarious” – we get 14 iterations of the word; two “Hilarious” columns. It’s all that needs to be said, apparently. Though, in truth, they might have put one outlier at the end: “Heartbreaking”.

In Doireann Garrihy’s The Laughs of Your Life podcast, she asks her guests to name a book that made them laugh out loud. I’m always waiting for someone to say This is Going to Hurt and a few episodes in, Deirdre O’Kane does the honours. She also says something that feels extremely relevant to Kay’s two books: “No audience is interested in the […]nice things that happen to you […]They want to know all the shit because we’re all in the shit – could you just turn it funny?” Adam Kay does just this: takes the shit and turns it funny.

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