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Black Swan Green : [Hardcover]

David Mitchell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 May 2006

David Mitchell comes home - to England, 1982, and the cusp of adolescence.

Jason Taylor is 13, doomed to be growing up in the most boring family in the deadest village (Black Swan Green) in the dullest county (Worcestershire) in the most tedious nation (England) on earth. And he stammers. 13 chapters, each as self-contained as a short story, follow 13 months in his life as he negotiates the pitfalls of school and home and contends with bullies, girls and family politics. In the distance, the Falklands conflict breaks out; close at hand, the village mobilises against a gypsy camp. And through Jason's eyes, we see what he doesn't know he knows - and watch unfold what will make him wish his life had been as uneventful as he had believed.

Vividly capturing the mood of the times - high unemployment, Cold War politics and the sunset of agrarian England - this is at once a portrait of an era and of an age: the black hole between childhood and teenagerdom.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 1st. Edition edition (8 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340822791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340822791
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 441,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Mitchell's first novel, GHOSTWRITTEN, was published in 1999, when it won the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His second novel, NUMBER9DREAM, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and in 2003 he was chosen as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. His third novel, CLOUD ATLAS, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the South Bank Show Literature Prize, and the Best Literary Fiction and Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year categories in the British Book Awards. It was shortlisted for a further six awards including the Man Booker Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize and has been made into a feature film starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, released in the UK in February 2013. His fourth novel, BLACK SWAN GREEN, was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His most recent novel, THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2010.

Born in 1969, David Mitchell grew up in Worcestershire. After graduating from Kent University, he spent several years teaching in Japan, and now lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

Product Description

Review

His wildest ride yet . . . a singular achievement, from an author of extraordinary ambition and skill (Independent on Sunday on CLOUD ATLAS)

Exceptional . . . clever, unusual, gripping and beautifully written (Literary Review on NUMBER9DREAM)

The best first novel I have read in ages . . . [it] beguiles, informs, shocks and captivates. (William Boyd, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year on GHOSTWRITTEN)

Book Description

David Mitchell, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted CLOUD ATLAS, returns with a vintage novel destined to be his most captivating achievement to date


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writer of many voices still scores with just one 12 Jun 2007
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Mitchell is a fantastic writer, continuing to display chameleon skills with every book. he can write, truthfully, with several different voices, and in several different styles.

In this book, on one level he damps down his pyrotechnics,by staying with one narrator throughout, rather than 'linking' different stories.

What he ends up with is a book of more traditional structure, following the journey of a adolescent boy, growing up in the early 80's in Worcestershire, with his own painful and often funny adolescence set against a backdrop of the Falklands War.

Whilst Mitchell can easily match Sue Townsend (Adrian Mole) with comedic touches, he also connects with something much more visceral and poignant.

His engaging narrator learns a lot in the space of a year about some very adult issues. This is a much easier book to read than Mitchell's others, and his craft is displayed much less flamboyantly, but is no less satisfying
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure reading pleasure 27 May 2007
By Redeye
Format:Paperback
David Mitchell deserves awards for his writing because he must be the finest author around. Black Swan Green takes you through a year in the life of thirteen-year-old boy in a typical English village in 1982. His references to events of the time, in particular the Falklands War take you back as you read. It does help that Jason Taylor is a very likeable, intelligent and yet vulnerable boy, being afflicted with a stammer, and the book is very painful to read at times as he suffers that most bleak and hurtful thing, bullying. I'd recently read Cloud Atlas which was a brilliant but quite difficult read and I knew this book was a lot easier but I was surprised that he even linked this book to Cloud Atlas through the amazing and surreal Madame Crommelynck daughter of Vyvyan Ayrs and who was the unrequited love of the tragic Robert Frobisher. Overall this book is an absolute 'must' read, as good as 'Catcher in the Rye'.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Swan Green 19 Aug 2006
Format:Hardcover
Anyone who is a fan of David Mitchell (and even those who have not read him) will love this book. However, don't expect the style of his previous books: Number 9 Dream, Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten. This is the story of a year in the rather eventful life of Jason Taylor, a boy of 13 growing up in a village called Black Swan Green, Worcestershire, in the early 1980s. Jason, apart from being quite a normal 13 year old, is a stammerer who tries desperately hard to hide his 'secret' from the rest of his schoolmates. His story of his experiences at school is one that anyone who was a teenager can identify with: how he sees his parents, the teachers, bullies, and those strange creatures called girls. But what makes this teenage narrative come alive, what makes you feel like you are there with Jason Taylor is the often brutal honesty with which he tells his truth. He says all the things you thought about as a teenager growing up but didn't dare to articulate. Mitchell also manages to evoke a nostalgia for the 1980s, and his detailing is superb. You remember how you or your parents or friends felt during the recession, or the public mood during the Falklands War. And there is also a nice touch where Mitchell quite unexpectedly introduces a character from one of his stories in Cloud Atlas.

The English countryside and village life is portrayed without the slightest hint of romanticism. A teenage boy doesn't see life like that. This is life in the raw. Jason sees the often brutal contests between boys to establish a pecking order, he is afraid of being ridiculed or beaten up after school, he worries about his status among the rest of the kids and he wonders if he will ever have a girlfriend. Life for young Jason Taylor is very serious indeed. In Black Swan Green, Mitchell makes a rather unpromising subject tense and fascinating. And it's a real pageturner -- you just have to know what happens next. Just buy this book!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly a triumph 30 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
Not quite an unqualified eulogy from me although I enjoyed reading it immensely hence the 4 stars. Mitchell sets out to convince us this is 1982 by loading the period references to an alarming - even excessive - degree; typically no opportunity is passed to give precise details of a meal, pop tune, clothes or whatever in order to re-emphasise that this is 1982, and this occasionally leads to clunky dialogue or stilted prose, eg when an adult refers laboriously to "Kay's Catalogues in Worcester" (a person would simply have referred to "Kays") or when Jason himself points out that the sweets from the jar in the shop come served up in paper bags (as they always were back then - in 1982 you wouldn't think to point it out). The artificial overloading of period data inevitably leads to the occasional factual error, which also grates with a reader if he or she happens to spot them. One or two other plot devices fail - we know the young sailor is serving on HMS Coventry so we can guess immediately what his fate will be. I felt he could have been put on a lesser known ship with more devastating impact (Who remembers now the ships that took hits and casualties but were not lost, like HMS Glamorgan?) The scene in which the young sailor had nightmares about combat before the Task Force was even dreamt about were overdramatised and silly - until the actual conflict and the inevitability of combat loomed he would have had no more fear of the terror of war than his former schoolfriends - The navy was just about the safest place to be until May 1982. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars St Ives Maid
A well written book which covers lots of life's issues. Took me a while to get into but couldn't put it down eventually. Every teacher should read.
Published 26 days ago by St Ivesmaid
5.0 out of 5 stars A portrayal of a teenage stammerer that I recognise
David Mitchell's fourth novel is narrated by Jason Taylor, a 13-year-old boy who, when he is in the hands of The Hangman who seeks to strangle his voice, stammers. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dr R
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite five star read: a novel on the English male adolescent...
This novel is the antidote to Philip Hensher's "Northern Clemency". David Mitchell in telling the story of Jason Taylor's mostly terrifying coming of age in Middle England and in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by "Belgo Geordie"
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into
This book was recommended by a friend. I found it dull and very difficult to get into. Very little happens.
Published 4 months ago by Mark Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful insight into the mind of an adolescent boy
The first dozen or pages didn't grab me but before too long I was engrossed in Jason's story. I am not a fan of poetry, however I loved the tale of how poetry came to be in... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Carrie.J
5.0 out of 5 stars bullied but bright
Told from a thirteen year old's point of view, this collection of stories about how a stammerer is bullied and humiliated, but survives with intelligence, makes you identify with... Read more
Published 5 months ago by rod 210
5.0 out of 5 stars Black swan green
I read this after someone recommended it on holiday. I really enjoyed it- easy reading and very funny in parts.
Published 5 months ago by Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great description of 80s england
I loved this book. It evoked powerful memories of 70s-80s england with humour and a light touch. I would highly recommend it,so much so it encouraged me go on to read several more... Read more
Published 7 months ago by C. R. Tregidgo
5.0 out of 5 stars Brought back my childhood
I absolutely loved this book. Brought back so many childhood memories and at the same time painted a picture of a bullied kid who I became very fond of. Read more
Published 7 months ago by The Bio
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirteen captured perfectly
Thirteen is a very difficult age to remember, for most of us it is clouded over by the turbulent and formative years the follow rapidly on. Read more
Published 8 months ago by simon says sew
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