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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Timeby Mark Haddon
2003 Whitbread Award for Best Novel
Synopses & Reviews
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christophers carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbors dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.
Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christophers mind.
And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddons choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.
"Superb....Bits of wisdom fairly leap off the page." Newsday
"Mark Haddon's stark, funny and original first novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is presented as a detective story. But it eschews most of the furnishings of high-literary enterprise as well as the conventions of genre, disorienting and reorienting the reader to devastating effect." Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review
"Though Christopher insists, 'This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them,' the novel brims with touching, ironic humor. The result is an eye-opening work in a unique and compelling literary voice." Publishers Weekly
"[S]tark, funny and original....
"Narrated by the unusual and endearing Christopher, who alternates between analyzing mathematical equations and astronomy and contemplating the deaths of Wellington and his mother, the novel is both fresh and inventive." Booklist
"[A] bittersweet tale....A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash." Kirkus Reviews
"This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy; whether describing Christopher's favorite dream...or his vision of the universe collapsing in a thunder or stars, the author makes his hero's severely limited world a thrilling place to be." The New Yorker
"A stroke of genius, as the advantages of having a naive, literal-minded boy in the driving seat are manifold... we do learn what it might feel like to have Asperger's Syndrome." David Newnham, T.E.S.
"For Haddon to have created such a superbly realized autistic world-view is, in itself, remarkable. Brilliantly inventive, full of dazzling set-pieces, unbearbly sad, yet also skilfully dodging any encounters with sentimentality, this isn't simply the most original novel I've read in years...it's also one of the best." The Times (London)
"The book gave me that rare, greedy feeling of: this is so good I want to read it all at once but I mustn't or it will be over too soon" Kate Kellaway, The Observer
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is brilliant. A dazzlingly original mystery story and a moving heart-breaker of a novel. In a word, unputdownable. A cross-over book of equal appeal to teenage and adult readers, it is also an acute portrayal of the autistic mind." Chris Brice, The Advertiser (Australia)
Narrated by a 15-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions.
About the Author
Mark Haddon is a writer and illustrator of numerous award-winning children's books and television screenplays. As a young man, Haddon worked with autistic individuals. He teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and at Oxford University. He lives in Oxford, England.
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