Related to: 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Sceptre

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Naoki Higashida
Authors:
Naoki Higashida
Sceptre

Slade House

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night. Turn down Slade Alley - narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you're looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn't quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won't want to leave. Later, you'll find that you can't.This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe'en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a 'guest' is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs...

Sceptre

The Bone Clocks

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Each of these slipcased limited editions is signed and numbered, and has a ribbon marker and specially illustrated endpapers. With a print run of just 500, this is a treat for collectors.One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . . The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly's life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland's Atlantic coast as Europe's oil supply dries up - a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes - daughter, sister, mother, guardian - is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its most spellbinding and memorable best.

Sceptre

The Reason I Jump: one boy's voice from the silence of autism

Naoki Higashida
Authors:
Naoki Higashida
Hodder & Stoughton

Ghostwritten

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell
Sceptre

Black Swan Green

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

The dazzling novel from critically-acclaimed David Mitchell.Shortlisted for the 2006 Costa Novel AwardLonglisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006January, 1982. Thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor - covert stammerer and reluctant poet - anticipates a stultifying year in his backwater English village. But he hasn't reckoned with bullies, simmering family discord, the Falklands War, a threatened gypsy invasion and those mysterious entities known as girls. Charting thirteen months in the black hole between childhood and adolescence, this is a captivating novel, wry, painful and vibrant with the stuff of life.

Sceptre

Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2004Winner of the Richard & Judy Best Read of the YearSouls cross ages like clouds cross skies . . .Six interlocking lives - one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity's will to power, and where it will lead us.*Please note that the end of p39 and p40 are intentionally blank*

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number9dream

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver captivated readers with her achingly beautiful first novel, BEFORE I FALL. She followed that up with her bestselling young adult Delirium Trilogy and three adult novels. Her latest book, RINGER, was published in 2016. Her new novel BROKEN THINGS will be published October 2017. She is also the author of three novels for young readers, including the CURIOSITY HOUSE series. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU's MFA program, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.Find more information at www.laurenoliverbooks.com, or connect with Lauren on Twitter (/OliverBooks) and on Facebook (/laurenoliverbooks).

Lex Coulton

Lex Coulton studied English, and later Creative Writing, at Oxford. She spent fourteen years teaching English in secondary schools before taking a sabbatical year in Paris, to focus on her writing. She has recently been awarded the Literature Works First Page Prize (2015) and the Thresholds International Feature Writing Prize (2016), and her short fiction is due to appear this year in the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology, the literary magazine Shooter and the London Journal of Fiction. Lex grew up in Herefordshire, and has recently returned to live there with her husband, John, and their dogs Bazil and Sadie.

Lisa McInerney

Lisa McInerney's work has featured in Winter Papers, Stinging Fly, Granta and on BBC Radio 4, and in the anthologies Beyond The Centre, The Long Gaze Back and Town and Country. Her debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016 and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, was published by John Murray in April 2017.

Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones is the author of several novels and short story collections which include Mister Pip, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize best book award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, The Book of Fame and Hand Me Down World, which was shortlisted for the Berlin International Prize. He has also published a memoir, A History of Silence. He lives in New Zealand.

Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels including The Cutting Room, A Lovely Way to Burn and Death is a Welcome Guest. She has received numerous awards and international fellowships, including an Honorary Doctor of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University and an honorary fellowship from the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Louise Welsh is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

Lucy Daniels

Lucy Daniels is the author of the bestselling children's book series, Animal Ark, which have sold nearly 3 million copies in the UK alone, and more recently, the Animal Ark Revisited series for adults. Lucy Daniels is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of celebrated author Victoria Holmes and real-life vet, Sarah McGurk. Victoria Holmes grew up on a farm surrounded by animals, and started writing at a young age. After studying English at the University of Oxford, Vicky worked with horses for a year before becoming an English teacher, then moved on to become an editor at Working Partners in London. Over the past two decades, Vicky has been the creator and editor of dozens of well-known series, including Animal Ark, Heartland, Rainbow Magic, Puppy Patrol, Chestnut Hill and, most famously, Warrior Cats. As the creator, editor and, later, author, of the Warrior Cats books, Vicky has travelled around the world to meet fans, appeared in numerous TV and radio interviews, and had a tiny taste of the celebrity lifestyle. She is still happiest at home in her medieval thatched cottage in the Somerset countryside, with her beloved horse Nick for company.Sarah McGurk grew up in the Yorkshire Dales, and was inspired by James Herriot to become a veterinary surgeon some thirty years ago. A few years after she qualified, Sarah realised she wanted to follow him further, into the world of veterinary writing. She began with short stories, then longer works of fiction, related to her work in general practice and in emergency and critical care. Her special interests include anaesthesia and pain relief, and low-stress techniques in small animal handling. Sarah currently lives in Norway, where she works in a local veterinary practice and speaks Norwegian fluently.Currently, Vicky and Sarah collaborate on the Animal Ark Revisited series, returning to the beloved setting of Welford and favourite characters from the original children's books. The first Animal Ark Revisited novel, Summer at Hope Meadows, picks up the story again with Mandy now in her twenties and working as a qualified vet. Full of countryside-charm and plenty of pet rescues, the Animal Ark Revisited series will capture the hearts of original readers of the series, as well as new readers looking for romantic escapism in a small village veterinary surgery.

Luke Jennings

Luke Jennings is a London-based author and journalist who has written for the Observer, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Time. He is the author of Blood Knots, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson and William Hill prizes, and Atlantic.

Margaret Kaine

Born and educated in Stoke-on-Trent, Margaret Kaine now lives in Eastbourne. Her short stories have been published in women's magazines in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Norway. She won the 2002 Romantic Novelists' Association/Reader's Digest Of Love and Life New Writer's Award and also the Society of Authors' Sagittarius Prize for her first novel, Ring of Clay, published in 2002.Visit her at www.margaretkaine.com.

Marianne Kavanagh

Marianne Kavanagh is a writer and journalist. She has worked on staff for Woman, Tatler, the Sunday Telegraph magazine and British Marie Claire, and has contributed features to a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. She lives in London.

Mary Adkins

Mary Adkins is a former lawyer living in New York. She teaches storytelling for The Moth and is an award-winning playwright. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, The Atlantic and more.

Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart was one of the 20th century's bestselling and best-loved novelists. She was born in Sunderland, County Durham in 1916, but lived for most of her life in Scotland, a source of much inspiration for her writing. Her first novel, Madam, Will You Talk? was published in 1955 and marked the beginning of a long and acclaimed writing career. In 1971 she was awarded the International PEN Association's Frederick Niven Prize for The Crystal Cave, and in 1974 the Scottish Arts Council Award for one of her children's books, Ludo and the Star Horse. She was married to the Scottish geologist Frederick Stewart, and died in 2014.

Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes was born and raised in Keady, Northern Ireland, and now lives in London. He attended St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh, and read English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He trained in theatre at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris, and has worked for many years as an actor, under the professional name Michael Colgan. He studied creative writing at Royal Holloway, and at London Metropolitan University, where he also taught. His first novel, The Countenance Divine, was published by John Murray in 2016. Country is his second novel.