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Shtum Paperback – 26 Jan 2017

4.7 out of 5 stars 305 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (26 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409162982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409162988
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (305 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

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

(Joanna Cannon, author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP)

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)

Book Description

Perfect for fans of The Rosie Project, David Nicholls and Jojo Moyes. A moving, funny and uplifting story of families and love.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A truly great book in many ways. Readable, emotive, poignant, sad, funny, loving. It is obvious throughout (and confirmed in the author's "about myself" section at the end) that there is a lot of personal experience brought into the story.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beautifully written story of a family living with an Autistic child. Having said that, I was expecting a story of amazing parents coping with every parents nightmare, what I got was a book about relationships, communication and self discovery. This is a story of ordinary people struggling to cope and doing so despite insurmountable problems (some of their own making). A warts and all account, I found it informative, challenging and heart rending. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be entertaining, funny in parts and thought provoking? I have no experience of children or anyone with aspergers but this book gives a small insight as to the problems parents and careers have to deal with. It made me think that perhaps people with aspergers and also dementia could be perfectly happy in their own worlds. They do not have a problem, it is the rest of us that have to learn how to cope.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this and it it really is one of the most moving novels I have ever read. The realness of the people and the situations they find themselves in is simply amazing. There are no real good/bad people in here it isn't that sort of story, i.e. they are real people. I would have liked a few less mentions of poo, but it is a big part of the lives of the main characters and couldn't really be left out. Never heard of the author before but I will certainly be looking out for more.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read a lot of books but this book almost consumed me from the first page; something that happens rarely. This book is so well written that it almost takes you on its journey, I felt the emotions of every character, obviously not to the extent of the characters but felt them nonetheless; this in itself shows the skill of the author. I can't recommend this book enough, not just a book about autism, although that is conveyed honestly, with empathy and integrity, this is also a book about life, love and all its struggles, warts and all with all its ugly truth... FANTASTIC 5 stars!!!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At first I had absolutely no sympathy for the main character and yet I felt compelled to read more. As the plot evolved it challenged my perceptions and made me realise I had been quite judgemental about all the main characters. I was also enlightened by the relationship between the main character and his son. Being a parent is different for everybody. The development regarding the mother was quite unexpected too!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An incredible book about family life with an autistic child. I had no idea how bad autism could be until I read this book. Shtum isn't a depressing read, though I found Georg's story sad. It shows what love can achieve.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, Jem's understanding and first hand experience of autism really shines through. I also like his sense of humour. When he made it a bit more literary by adding the historical dimension it seemed slightly less natural. I found the references to jewish culture in a non-religious context really interesting.
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