Related to: 'Now We Shall Be Entirely Free'

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

The Crossing

Andrew Miller
Authors:
Andrew Miller

She is sailing. She is alone. Ahead of her is the world's curve and beyond that, everything else. The known, the imagined, the imagined known.Who else has entered Tim's life the way Maud did? This girl who fell past him, lay seemingly dead on the ground, then stood and walked. That was where it all began.He wants her - wants to rescue her, to reach her. Yet there is nothing to suggest Maud has any need of him, that she is not already complete. A woman with a talent for survival, who works long hours and loves to sail - preferably on her own. A woman who, when a crisis comes, will turn to the sea for refuge, embarking on a voyage that will test her to the utmost, that will change everything . . .From the Costa Award-winning author of Pure comes a viscerally honest, hypnotic portrait of modern love and motherhood, the lure of the sea and the ultimate unknowability of others. This pitch-perfect novel confirms Andrew Miller's position as one of the finest writers of his generation.

Sceptre

Pure

Andrew Miller
Authors:
Andrew Miller
Sceptre

The Optimists

Andrew Miller
Authors:
Andrew Miller

The exceptional and powerful novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of OxygenIn a world where people slaughter the innocent without mercy or retribution, how can we have faith in humanity, or the future?Clem Glass, a photojournalist, returns from Africa to London convinced he knows the answer - mankind is fundamentally wicked and there is no hope for us. Yet when his sister falls ill and he takes her back to the West Country of their childhood, he cannot ignore the decency, joys and small kindnesses of those around him, or the pulse of goodness in his own heart. Until news comes that offers Clem the chance to confront the author of his nightmares.

Sceptre

One Morning Like a Bird

Andrew Miller
Authors:
Andrew Miller
Hodder & Stoughton

Oxygen

Andrew Miller
Authors:
Andrew Miller

Shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize and Whitbread Novel of the Year AwardIn the summer of 1997, four people reach a turning point: Alice Valentine, who lies gravely ill in her West Country home; her two sons, one still searching for a sense of direction, the other fighting to keep his acting career and marriage afloat; and Laszlo Lazar, who leads a comfortable life in Paris yet is plagued by his memories of the 1956 Hungarian uprising. For each, the time has come to assess what matters in life, and all will be forced to take part in an act of liberation -- though not necessarily the one foreseen.

Sceptre

Casanova

Andrew Miller
Authors:
Andrew Miller

Giacomo Casanova arrives in England in the summer of 1763 at the age of thirty-eight, seeking a respite from his restless travels and liaisons. But the lure of company proves too hard to resist and the dazzlingly pretty face of young Marie Charpillon even harder. Casanova's pursuit of this elusive bewitcher drives him from exhilaration to despair and to attempt to reinvent himself in the roles of labourer, writer and country squire. Based on a little-known episode in Casanova's life, this is a scintillating, poignant, often comic portrait of a far more complex figure than legend suggests and of the decadent society in which he operated. Beautifully written, gripping and surprising, Casanova is a superb successor to INGENIOUS PAIN.

Sceptre

Ingenious Pain

Andrew Miller
Authors:
Andrew Miller

Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford, has taught at a number of institutions and written for many magazines. The first novel in the Ibis trilogy, Sea of Poppies, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008. In 2015, Amitav Ghosh was named as a finalist of the Man Booker International Prize.

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller's first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and greeted as the debut of an outstanding new writer. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign novel published in Italy.It has been followed by Casanova, Oxygen, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award in 2001, The Optimists, One Morning Like A Bird, Pure, which won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2011, and The Crossing.Andrew Miller's novels have been published in translation in twenty countries. Born in Bristol in 1960, he currently lives in Somerset.

Anna Jacobs

Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. She is addicted to writing and figures she'll have to live to be 120 at least to tell all the stories that keep popping up in her imagination and nagging her to write them down. She's also addicted to her own hero, to whom she's been happily married for many years.She is the bestselling author of over eighty novels and has been shortlisted for several awards, and Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006.You can find out more on her website, www.annajacobs.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Anna.Jacobs.Books.

Beatrice Colin

Beatrice Colin was born in London and raised in Scotland. She has worked as a freelance journalist writing for publications including the Guardian, and a playwright, writing radio plays for the BBC. She lives in Glasgow. THE LUMINOUS LIFE OF LILLY APHRODITE was a Richard & Judy selection and has been translated into several languages.

Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy is the award-winning author of the novel, The Wilding (forthcoming from Graywolf, September 28, 2010), as well as two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf, 2007) and The Language of Elk (Carnegie Mellon, 2006). Publishers Weekly gave The Wilding a starred review, saying "Percy's excellent debut novel...digs into the ambiguous American attitude toward nature as it oscillates between Thoreau's romantic appreciation and sheer gothic horror... It's as close as you can get to a contemporary Deliverance." Percy's honors include a Whiting Writers Award, the Plimpton Prize, the Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories. His fiction and nonfiction appear in Esquire (where he is a regular contributor), Outside, Men's Journal, the Paris Review, Orion, Tin House, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other magazines and journals. He teaches in the MFA program at Iowa State and can be found online at benjaminpercy.com.

Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand grew up in Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where she was a teaching/writing fellow. She now lives with her husband and their three children on Nantucket, Massachusetts, where her novels are set.You can follow Elin on Twitter @elinhilderbrand or find out more on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/ElinHilderbrand.

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, and graduated from Minnesota University in 1966, already writing for the New Yorker. He hosted the live radio show 'A Prairie Home Companion', delivering a weekly monologue set in the quiet, fictional mid-western town of Lake Wobegon. He has been described as 'the best humorous writer to come out of America since Thurber.'

James Clavell

James Clavell, the son of a Royal Navy family, was educated in Portsmouth before, as a young artillery officer, he was captured by the Japanese at the Fall of Singapore. It was on this experience that his bestselling novel KING RAT was based. He maintained this oriental interest in his other great works: TAI-PAN, SHOGUN, NOBLE HOUSE and GAI JIN. Clavell lived for many years in Vancouver and Los Angeles, before settling in Switzerland, where he died in 1994.

James Frey

James Frey is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His books A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning and The Final Testament of the Holy Bible have all been bestsellers around the world. He is married and lives in New York.

Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde spent twenty years in the film business before debuting on the New York Times bestseller list with The Eyre Affair in 2001. Since then he has written another twelve novels, including the Number One Sunday Times bestseller One of our Thursdays is Missing, and the Last Dragonslayer series, adapted for television by Sky.Fforde lives and works in his adopted nation of Wales. Visit Jasper's website, www.jasperfforde.com, find him on Facebook, www.facebook.com/jasperffordebooks, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasperfforde.

John Connolly

John Connolly is author of the Charlie Parker mysteries, The Book of Lost Things, the Samuel Johnson novels for young adults and, with his partner, Jennifer Ridyard, co-author of the Chronicles of the Invaders. John Connolly's debut - EVERY DEAD THING - introduced the character of Private Investigator Charlie Parker, and swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers. All his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers. He was the winner of the 2016 CWA Short Story Dagger for On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier from NIGHT MUSIC: Nocturnes Vol 2.In 2007 he was awarded the Irish Post Award for Literature. He was the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award and the first Irish writer to win an Edgar award. BOOKS TO DIE FOR, which he edited with Declan Burke, was the winner of the 2013 Anthony, Agatha and Macavity awards for Best Non-Fiction work.

John Julius Norwich

After National Service, John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) took a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. In 1952 he joined the Foreign Service serving at the embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and with the British Delegation to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. His publications include The Normans in Sicily; Mount Athos (with Reresby Sitwell); Sahara; The Architecture of Southern England; Glyndebourne; and A History of Venice. He was also the author of a three-volume history of the Byzantine Empire. He wrote and presented some thirty historical documentaries for television, and was a regular lecturer on Venice and numerous other subjects. Lord Norwich was chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, Co-chairman of the World Monuments Fund and a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Trust. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquaries, and a Commendatore of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana. He was made a CVO in 1993.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.