Shtum Paperback – 26 Jan 2017
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Praise for the heartwarming novel of 2017:
Jem Lester writes so beautifully, it feels as if you're eavesdropping on a conversation. Shtum is a book with true heart and soul, and I loved every word
A darker, sadder version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but just as moving (OBSERVER)
Angry and fiercely funny . . . The ending tears the heart out; this is an unforgettable first novel (THE TIMES)
This is the literary territory of Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby, infused with the Jewish humour of Howard Jacobson and Shalom Auslander . . . an impressive novel that gives a very accurate portrayal of the struggles some families of autistic children endure, while taking the reader on an exhilarating roller coaster ride between pathos, comedy and anger (GUARDIAN)
Moving and, at times, painfully sad, Lester's account is also darkly funny. It is an important reminder of the complex spectrum of human emotion, and a profound insight into an often misunderstood disorder (STYLIST)
'SHTUM is a thought-provoking novel about the silent ties between generations, with a wonderful child character at its heart. I loved Jonah and ached for the impossible decisions his family had to face' (Julie Cohen)
Highly intelligent, warm-hearted and clearly based on experience (THE SUNDAY TIMES)
Powerful, unapologetic and deeply moving, Jem Lester mines a hard-hitting story to discover dark humour and surprising warmth. It's a book that breaks your heart but ultimately uplifts. A simply stunning novel (Miranda Dickinson)
A tale of family, loss, self-discovery and forgiveness. Prepare to be moved by its beauty (HEAT MAGAZINE)
Warm, funny and sad (DAILY EXPRESS)
Funny yet heart-breaking, the book is likely to be enjoyed by fans of The Rosie Project and The Shock of the Fall (INDEPENDENT)
Jem Lester manages to capture a difficult and often heart-wrenching story of a family coping with an autistic son, writing with a fast pace and levity that somehow doesn't lessen any of the emotion of this wonderful novel. A must for your reading list (GRAZIA)
With shades of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time this former journalist's debut is informed by his own experiences with his non-verbal autistic son (BIG ISSUE)
A book that has you laughing one minute and is breaking your heart the next. (WOMAN AND HOME)
An emotive, button-pushing read that should come with a packet of tissues (RED MAGAZINE)
'[Lester] tells a memorable story full of dark humour and heart twistingly sad insight, about the bond between fathers and sons' (SUNDAY MIRROR)
[Lester carries] off this challenging storyline with spectacular success. There are some very sad moments, but far more that are blackly funny. Lester is superb at comic cameo, and the local authority jobsworths with whom Ben must deal are hilariously drawn. But it is Georg, Ben's severe and loving father, who is the novel's towering achievement; a complex man whose tragic past illuminates the present (DAILY MAIL)
Bleak, candid, funny and touching, this impressively impassioned debut novel reveals how a lack of words does not signify a lack of love (SUNDAY EXPRESS MAGAZINE)
Drawing on his own experience of raising an autistic child, Jem Lester has made this a frank and warm portrait of three men bumbling through life (INDEPENDENT)
'At its heart are the things they need to say to each other but often keep "shtum" about - and the child who says nothing, but communicates his needs eloquently' (FINANCIAL TIMES)
Shtum is a novel of compassionate understanding, and it is absorbing from start to finish. (Ian Thomson TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)
Gritty, heart-breaking and wonderful all at once. (Natasha Harding THE SUN)
Prepare for an unsweetened heart-shredder of a novel, as raw as it is real. (Madeleine Kingsley JEWISH CHRONICLE)
Heart-wrenching and thought-provoking story of a family coping with an autistic child. (Fanny Blake WOMAN & HOME)
This touching novel tells the story of Jonah, a 10-year old boy who can't speak. (NOW MAGAZINE)
Lester's unusual book conveys a profound message about the whole spectrum of humanity... a thought-provoking and moving read. (Helena Gumley-Mason THE LADY)
It's the territory of Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby, infused with the Jewish humour of Howard Jacobson and Shalom Auslander. This impressive novel leads the reader through pathos, comedy and anger. (GUARDIAN)
Whether you think Shtum is a novel about autism or about marriage (it's both, by the way), you will agree that it is, in the end, a love story infused with wit, charm, and a deep appreciation for the complex beauty of damaged souls. (Jonathan Tropper, author of THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU)
Perfect for fans of The Rosie Project, David Nicholls and Jojo Moyes. A moving, funny and uplifting story of families and love.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The characters are brilliantly written. We have Jonah: severely autistic, mute, incontinent, often violent, loves being outside, feathers, baths and eating apples; "the only predictable thing about him is his unpredictability". I won't write too much about (dad) Ben (mum) Emma and (Ben's dad) Georg as getting to know them is a big part of the story, but they are wonderfully well-rounded and real characters.
There are several overlapping plot elements. The legal battle to allow Jonah entry to the school that would be best for him. The relationships Ben has with Emma and Georg. The relationship Ben has with Jonah - his lovely boy who is at times hard to love. The secrets Georg keeps from his early life as a Jew in WWII. The book also touches on Ben's friends, and the difficulties in maintaining friendships with adults whose children don't have special needs.
The headline of 'A darker, sadder version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but just as moving' is a really good description. This book has gone onto my all-time favourite list and I would thoroughly recommend reading it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Made me laugh and shed a tear. Fantastic!
If like this, recommend The Boy made of Blocks too.
Having worked with Autistic children myself, I was curious to read a novel about the condition. The book sheds a bright light as to just how hard this condition is to live with on... Read morePublished 2 days ago by suzanne leggett
An inspiring novel of reality. Full of fully rounded people, each with a story of how life is for them, how they became the people they are and how love works. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Granny Grimble
Thank you, thank you for this wonderful story and for giving the reader an insight into the world of autism. Very funny and emotionally sad.
What a story!!
A MUST READ
I laughed, I cried, I laughed again I read a story, someone's life put into words. Then I felt the passion, the pain and the struggle of life with a disability and then I got it. Read morePublished 4 days ago by clare roberts
Such a thought provoking novel and a glimpse of what it is like to have an autistic child. I loved Georg the grandfather and the final revelations made riveting reading.Published 5 days ago by Kindle Customer
A life affirming book . Sooooooo very good . The sort of book you want EVERYONE to read. Fabulous.Published 5 days ago by Louise Potts
I bought it as a 99p kindle read, but it worth a lot more. The emotions, the insight into life with autism made it an unbelievable experience. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Blackie