The Comforts of Madness is the 1988 debut novel of English author Paul Sayer. It won the 1988 Whitbread Award for both Best First Novel, and Book of the Year. Written while the author was working as a psychiatric nurse in Clifton Hospital in York, and drawing on his own experiences it is a first-person account of a speechless, catatonic patient in a hospital therapy unit.

In an interview Sayer explains that this was the third novel he had actually written, but, like his earlier efforts, would in all likelihood have gone unpublished had it not won the Constable Trophy, an award given by Yorkshire Arts for 'the best unpublished novel in the North of England'. "I've always thought it highly unlikely that any agent or editor would ever have taken it on, owing to its shortness and dark nature.

After winning the Whitbread First Novel Award, Sayer was not expecting to win the actual book of the year, where it was up against the hot favourite, Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. " I was already more than satisfied with the book's critical reception and the Whitbread First Novel award, and on the night the overall prize was awarded I was certain I was only there to make up the numbers.