Related to: 'Black Swan Green'

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: A young man’s voice from the silence of autism

Naoki Higashida
Authors:
Naoki Higashida
Sceptre

Slade House

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell
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

The No. 1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of autistic children. Using a question and answer format, Naoki explains things like why he talks loudly or repeats the same questions, what causes him to have panic attacks, and why he likes to jump. He also shows the way he thinks and feels about his world - other people, nature, time and beauty, and himself. Abundantly proving that people with autism do possess imagination, humour and empathy, he also makes clear how badly they need our compassion, patience and understanding.David Mitchell and his wife have translated Naoki's book so that it might help others dealing with autism and generally illuminate a little-understood condition. It gives us an exceptional chance to enter the mind of another and see the world from a strange and fascinating perspective.The book also features eleven original illustrations, inspired by Naoki's words, by the artistic duo Kai and Sunny.

Sceptre

Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell
Hodder & Stoughton

Margaret the Queen

Nigel Tranter
Authors:
Nigel Tranter

First she was Margaret the refugee. A Saxon princess, sister of EdgarAtheling who, but for William the Conqueror, would have been King ofEngland. She came to Scotland in 1069.Beautiful, sympathetic and devout, she was an unlikely consort to therough and ready Malcolm King of Scots and slayer of MacBeth, a man whocared for little other than hunting, drinking and the brutal arts ofwar.Yet, through her gentle strength of character and intelligence, she wasto have a profound and lasting effect on her adopted nation and peoplethat lasts to this day.

Hodder & Stoughton

Mail Royal

Nigel Tranter
Authors:
Nigel Tranter
Hodder & Stoughton

Crusader

Nigel Tranter
Authors:
Nigel Tranter
Hodder & Stoughton

A Stake in the Kingdom

Nigel Tranter
Authors:
Nigel Tranter
Hodder Paperbacks

Columba

Nigel Tranter
Authors:
Nigel Tranter
Hodder & Stoughton

Believing the Lie

Elizabeth George
Authors:
Elizabeth George

Detective Inspector Lynley is approached by business magnate Bernard Fairclough for a confidential review - not a formal investigation - of the circumstances of his nephew's demise. The coroner's verdict is accidental death. Still grieving for his murdered wife, Lynley has personal reasons for welcoming a spell away from London. He heads to the wild beauty of the Lake District, with Deborah and Simon St James to provide cover for his inquiries. Barbara Havers, back at base, makes her own unique contribution to the case, distracted only by Isabelle's ambitions to improve her Detective Sergeant's appearance. When he comes to know the various members of the extended Fairclough dynasty, Lynley finds many possible motives for murder, and uncovers layers of deceit and betrayal that expose the lies at the heart of the Cumbrian community.

Hodder Paperbacks

Carrie

Stephen King
Authors:
Stephen King

Stephen King's legendary debut, about a teenage outcast and the revenge she enacts on her classmates, is a Classic. CARRIE is the novel which set him on the road to the Number One bestselling author King is today.Carrie White is no ordinary girl.Carrie White has the gift of telekinesis.To be invited to Prom Night by Tommy Ross is a dream come true for Carrie - the firststep towards social acceptance by her high school colleagues.But events will take a decidedly macabre turn on that horrifying and endless night as sheis forced to exercise her terrible gift on the town that mocks and loathes her . . .

Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Flourish

Martin Seligman
Authors:
Martin Seligman
Hodder & Stoughton

Kate's Wedding

Chrissie Manby
Authors:
Chrissie Manby
Hodder & Stoughton

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller, from the author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS.Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010Be transported to a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th-century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two cultures converge. In a tale of integrity and corruption, passion and power, the key is control - of riches and minds, and over death itself.(P)2010 Hodder & Stoughton

Sceptre

The Language of Others

Clare Morrall
Authors:
Clare Morrall

The world is a puzzling, sometimes frightening place for Jessica Fontaine. As a child she only finds contentment in playing the piano and wandering alone in the empty spaces of Audlands Hall, the dilapidated country house where she grows up. Twenty-five years later, divorced, with her son still living at home, Jessica remains preoccupied by the desire to create space around her. Then her volatile ex-husband reappears, the first of several surprises that both transform Jessica's present and give her a startling new perspective on the past. THE LANGUAGE OF OTHERS tells the absorbing story of a woman who spends much of her life feeling that she is out of step with the real world, until she discovers why. Related with humour and compassion, it offers a fresh, illuminating insight into what it means to be normal.

Hodder & Stoughton

Ghostwritten

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Winner of the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.A magnificent achievement and an engrossing experience, David Mitchell's first novel announced the arrival of one of the most exciting writers of the twenty-first century. An apocalyptic cult member carries out a gas attack on a rush-hour metro, but what links him to a jazz buff in downtown Tokyo? Or to a Mongolian gangster, a woman on a holy mountain who talks to a tree, and a late night New York DJ?Set at the fugitive edges of Asia and Europe, Ghostwritten weaves together a host of characters, their interconnected destinies determined by the inescapable forces of cause and effect.(P)2007 Hodder & Stoughton Audiobooks

Sceptre

number9dream

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2001The second novel from the critically-acclaimed author of GHOSTWRITTEN and CLOUD ATLAS.As Eiji Miyake's twentieth birthday nears, he arrives in Tokyo with a mission - to locate the father he has never met. So begins a search that takes him into the seething city's underworld, its lost property offices and video arcades, and on a journey that zigzags from reality to the realm of dreams. But until Eiji has fallen in love and exorcised his childhood demons, the belonging he craves will remain, tantalizingly, just beyond his grasp.

Hodder & Stoughton

Highness in Hiding

Nigel Tranter
Authors:
Nigel Tranter

The quashing of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 saw an end to the ambitions of the exiled house of Stuart. But somehow the young pretender, Prince Charles Edward, otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, manage to avoid arrest.For six extraordinary months the handsome young prince, often starving, sometimes barefoot and in rags, ranged the Western Highlands and the Outer and Inner Hebrides, hiding, lurking, fleeing.Despite dire threats of punishment to all who might aid and abet him, the royal fugitive was hidden by brave and trusty supporters, each of whom could have betrayed him for the massive £30,000 reward offered by the English.This story stands as a tribute to the loyalty and staunch courage of the Highland clansfolk.'Through his imaginative dialogue, he provides a voice for Scotland's heroes' Scotland on Sunday

Hodder Paperbacks

David the Prince

Nigel Tranter
Authors:
Nigel Tranter

Half-Celt and half-Saxon, King David determined to take hold of his backward, patriarchal, strife-ridden country and, against all the odds, pushed and dragged it into the forefront of Christendom's advancing nations. This is a story of independence, singlemindedness and hard-headed leadership. But also, through the turbulent years of his reign, it is a story of devotion: to the woman he admired and loved, Queen Matilda.'Through his imaginative dialogue, he provides a voice for Scotland's heroes' Scotland on Sunday