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The Insult Hardcover – 16 Feb 1996

3.7 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (16 Feb. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747523797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747523796
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 837,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘A stunning premise, brilliantly unravelled…it confirms Thomson in the front rank of English authors’ -- Observer

‘A stunningly clever thriller’ -- Sunday Times

‘The Insult met every requirement I felt I could possibly have of a novel … breathtakingly clever’ -- The Times

‘Wonderful … he has an extraordinary capacity to construct a parallel universe … a powerful creative talent’ -- Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The utterly engrossing and disturbing novel from the author of Divided Kingdom --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For a fascinating gaze at (compulsive) character portrayal you will find 'The Insult' by Rupert Thomson superb. I began the book after I had finished writing an onerous business assignment when I was hungry for indulgent rather than obligatory reading. I finished it within a couple of days, unable to stop reading the last couple of hundred pages into the early hours of the final morning. It is a book written in three or four stages, with a quite different approach to sentence length, style and consciousness at each stage. It is particularly easy to zoom through the first stage (which I presume the author intended for the reader), because the sentences are very short and unfussy in both grammar and vocabulary (rather like the early work of Ian McEwan), and half way through this part I was almost tempted to abandon the book, thinking nothing much was coming. Thank Buddha I didn't. Thomson was simply putting down his first layer and drawing me, the unsuspecting first-time reader of any of his works, across it. Then he took me on quite a ride. This man can craft and tell a story - the latter part of the book contains some of the best, flowing prose and human insights I have ever read. As one commentator (on the inside cover) puts it: "When someone can write as well as Thomson, it makes you wonder why other people bother." Because the book changes so noticeably at certain points, you are tempted to react as if watching a badly edited movie, but it's worth hanging in there. I thought the middle stages of the book, where the blind man partly loses grip on reality, rather caused me to lose grip a bit too (hence the dropped star in my rating), but I do not present this as an injurious criticism of Insult. It's a brilliant book. I'm excited to have discovered Thomson and I'm now off to read more of his work.
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Format: Paperback
The plot loosely follows: Martin Blom is shot in a parking lot and wakes up blind. He is diagnosed with Anton's Syndrome, an actual (!) medical condition "caused by damage to the occipital lobe which extends from the primary visual cortex into the visual association cortex".
In other words, Martin believes he can see during the night, and that his doctors have been lying to him about his 'special case'. He escapes the hospital and engages himself on a search for his missing girlfriend, a search that will lead him to confront himself and a secret even more devastating than his own.
The book is written entirely in the first-person POV. Given that the person narrating the story believes he can see, while the reader knows- possibly- that he can't, lends a sublimely horrific yet sympathetic tone to the protagonist's voice. After all, Martin is the only person in the book we can trust, given that events are related from his hopelessly skewed point of view. Or are they skewed? The beauty of the choice of POV is that the reader has no choice but to fling themselves headfirst into the dream-like tunnel of Martin's delusions (if that is what they are) as he attempts to solve the mystery of his girlfriend's disappearance and of his own affliction.
The descriptive level of the book is surreal and terrifyingly subjective. It makes the reader feel like they are walking in the dark, and one wrong step will send you plunging into the darkness lurking at the edges of the narrative. There are many sub-stories swimming around here, some of which may be true and some not.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this an unusual but fascinating book. The story starts with Martin who has been blinded by a random gun attack and goes in some detail through his emotional and psychological journey. He meets and falls for Nina, who then suddenly disappears. Martin sets off to find more about Nina whilst developing severe paranoia. He meets Ninas mother and then grandmother.
The story then changes to Ninas grandmother as the main character and slowly we begin to see another group of lives on a collision course with Martin and Nina.
When the two stories come together it was so well developed that it reminded me of Arthur Haleys Roots.
A very emotionally engaging book that makes us question our own realities - highly recommended.
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By A Customer on 20 July 2000
Format: Paperback
Rupert Thomson's story about a blind man who is convinced he can see is more than just a gripping thriller. It also offers an insight into how we perceive each other and the quick judgments one makes through visualisation. It is easy to imagine through Martin Blom's plight how our other senses can perhaps produce a more accurate assessment of a persons character. As Martin becomes convinced of some form of conspiracy against him his behaviour becomes more outrageous and farcical. One sympathises with his hidden frustration and his desire to hold onto what he has already lost. His dilemma is an addictive one - as one becomes more and more involved in the trials and tribulations of his "new" life the story takes on a completely new dimension, thrusting us back into the past of a previously minor character until events eventually intertwine, This is an extremely clever, dark and at times disturbing book. Thomson is a great talent.
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