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Black Swan Green Paperback – 2 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (2 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340822805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340822807
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in 1969, David Mitchell grew up in Worcestershire. After graduating from Kent University, he taught English in Japan, where he wrote his first novel, Ghostwritten. Published in 1999, it was awarded the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His second novel, number9dream, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and in 2003, David Mitchell was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. His third novel, Cloud Atlas, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial and South Bank Show Literature prizes and the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and adapted for film in 2012. It was followed by Black Swan Green, shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which was a No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. Both were also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

In 2013, The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida was published in a translation from the Japanese by David Mitchell and KA Yoshida. It was an immediate bestseller in the UK and later in the US as well. David Mitchell's sixth novel is The Bone Clocks (Sceptre, September 2014).

He now lives in Ireland with his wife and their two children.

Product Description

Review

Black Swan Green's 'I love 1982' nostalgia is a glassy, pitch-perfect, mock-innocent surface through which something rotten might appear. (Ali Smith Sunday Telegraph)

David Mitchell is dizzyingly, dazzlingly good . . . Black Swan Green is just gorgeous. (Eithne Farry Daily Mail )

It is the best kind of contemporary fiction. ( TLS )

Hugely touching and enjoyable. (Rachel Cooke, Summer Reads Observer)

A delight to read from beginning to end. ( Sunday Express )

Luminously beautiful. ( The Times )

Book Description

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Jun. 2007
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By I bite on 29 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a little out of my usual genre for reading material. It was like digging up a time capsule from the 1980s with so many historical references to the times and it took me back even further to my school days in the 60s.
I cannot make comparisons to Adrian Mole as I haven't read any of those stories but the connection seems to be there with the main character, Jason Taylor, being just thirteen years old.
Some have suggested that Mitchell wrote this as an autobiography as he, like his protagonist, suffers from stammering but many of the incidents portrayed in the book appear to be the work of an active imagination rather than the documentation of real events. I was much impressed by the intelligence and coherence of Jason's thirteeen-year-old thought processes. (Did we ever think that clearly at that age?) I am also grateful for being educated in the difference between stammering and stuttering.
The story covers a year in Jason's life, dealing with his disability, school bullies, his parents' marriage breakdown, rising libido, et al. I really liked Mitchell's writing style and his avoidance of cliches with imaginative similes although sometimes this led to difficult interpretations of what was actually meant.
In some places the dialogue (especially with the 'exotic Belgian emigre' with the unpronounceable name) read more like a professorial tutorial than a novel but that's by-the-by.
Altogether an engaging rite of passage story which was well-written, well-constructed and a pleasure to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Craig on 10 Jun. 2006
Format: Hardcover
The first thing I noticed about this book was its discrete nature. David Mitchell has written a selection of short stories, albeit with some continuity, about the life of a 13 year old rather than a continuous novel. This to me was sometimes frustrating: we meet characters/explore ideas in some chapters which we barely see again.

That said, I eventually got immersed in the central character, saw many parallels with my own experiences, and left feeling satisfied. Everything seems to come together during the last quarter, although it's clear that the story will go on long after we have departed.

In both this book and the mesmerising 'Cloud Atlas' (sorry to bring it up!) Mitchell succeeds is making us sympathise with his characters, but, cleverly, he makes us do so at different levels for different ones. The result is to make the tale more believable and to question both Jason Taylor's (and therefore our own) perception of what's going on.

Mentioning 'Cloud Atlas,' I should point out that not one but two characters from that book appear here. Maybe there are more that I've missed. I won't, however, ruin it by saying who, but their appearances don't seem too forced and it's nice to see more of them.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. His previous will always be my favourite though.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very impressive story of teenager coming to terms with the world around him in the 1980s. The tale tells of the thirteen months of Jason's life between childhood and adolescence - the stammering, the bullies, the family strife, the Falklands War and the diverse and strange characters living in his village. As a sensitive, intelligent boy Jason has to make his way in life through a maze of dangers - knowing which boys to avoid, not using the wrong words, wearing the right clothes, not letting anyone know he writes poetry etc. The whole book is laden with cultural and historical references: Curly Whirlies, Thatcherism, Gotcha and ZX Spectrums.

An authentic narrative voice is in turns funny, perceptive and moving. In parts it is desperately sad (even though Jason expresses no self pity) but is ultimately positive and uplifting. Beautifully constructed novel and exuberant language.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A. J. King on 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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