R.P. McMurphy, an insubordinate, anti-authoritarian non-conformist makes the mistake of “acting” crazy to duck out of life on a penal work farm, believing he can sit out the remaining weeks of his sentence in the supposed ease of a mental asylum. His real problems begin when he is faced with Nurse Ratched, a smug and uncompromising matriarch who enjoys cutting men down to insecure children she can control. The entire story is told by first person narration, from the point of view of Chief Bromden, who sees authority as an all-powerful and ruthless combine. Bromden pretends that he is deaf and dumb in order to hide away from the world, content to simply be ignored by everyone around him. That is before the battle of wills between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched ensues and stirs up an atmosphere of rebellion among the other patients on the ward. Who is sane in this world? What issues does Nurse Ratched have that drive her to being a cruel, vindictive tyrant?
By turns hilarious, frightening and tragic, this is one of the greatest books ever written that shines a light on the concepts of sanity, freedom, dignity and the pressures of life and society on the individual.
The 1975 movie, starring Jack Nicholson as McMurphy, is one of the best movie adaptations.
On a trivia note, Christian Slater, who also bears a striking resemblance to Jack Nicholson, played the role of McMurphy in theatres and received great reviews.