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    Benjamin Parzybok 9781618730862


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Cover



Author Q & A

What research did you do into Autism and Behavioural problems before writing this novel, is Christopher's character based on anyone in particular?

After leaving university I spent several years working with adults and children who had a variety of physical and mental handicaps (as they were then known). Ever since that time I've been interested in the subject of disability and mental illness. As a result, hardly a week goes by without me reading an newspaper article or watching a television documentary about schizophrenia or manic depression or Tourette's… And hardly a month goes by without me meeting yet another person who is the parent or grandparent of someone who has been diagnosed as having Asperger's. I also know a number of adults (men, mostly) who would almost certainly be diagnosed with the syndrome if they had been born twenty, thirty, forty years later. And that was the extent of my 'research'. I deliberately didn't consult fat tomes on Asperger's or visit special schools when I was working on the book because I wanted Christopher to work as a human being and not as a clinical case study.

The book has been published for adults and children simultaneously; did you set out to write a book which would appeal to such a wide age range?

No. I wrote it to entertain myself (which is, I think, the motivation behind any half-decent novel) in the hope that there would people out there who shared my interests and obsessions. So the much-vaunted 'crossover appeal' came as a very pleasant surprise.

Have you received any positive feedback from people with Aspergers Syndrome/ Autism, their families, or people who work with them?

To be scrupulously honest… the book had one very bad review from a young man with Asperger's who thought the book was bad, mainly because Christopher wasn't like him or like any other people he knew with Asperger's. But the review missed the point, I think. People with Asperger's are as diverse a group as Belgians or trumpet players or train drivers. There is no typical or representative person with Asperger's. And to try and create one would have produced a stereotype.

On the other hand I've been genuinely moved and completely taken by surprise by the number of parents and grandparents of young people with Asperger's who have written to tell me that the book rings completely true for them.

I have been even more surprised to receive several invitations to address academic conferences on Asperger's and Autism. Which misses the point in a different way, I think. If Christopher seems real it's because he's well-written not because I'm an expert in the area. We live in an age obsessed with documentaries, with biographies, with investigative journalism. We often forget that you can have all the facts but be no nearer the truth. And this is what novels are good at. A novel can put you inside another person's head and give you an understanding of their life you could only get by moving into their house for six months.

How did you come up with such and original idea for a novel?

It happened piece by piece and without any deliberate seeking after originality or quirkiness. I began with the image of the dog stabbed with the fork simply because I was searching for a vivid and gripping way of starting a novel. I then realised that if you described it in a flat, emotionless, neutral way it was also (with apologies to all dog lovers) very funny. So I had the voice. Only after using that voice for a few pages did I work out who it belonged to. Having done that the difficult thing was to work out a believable way for Christopher to construct a novel given that he is utterly unaware of the reader's emotional responses to what he is writing. Having Christopher simply copy his hero, Sherlock Holmes, by borrowing the format of the murder mystery was the solution to this problem. Finally, because I genuinely believed that very few people would want to read a novel about a teenage boy with a disability living in Swindon with his dad, I arranged the whole plot round the central turning point (where we discover who killed Wellington and what really happened to Christopher's mother) to make it as entertaining as possible, hopefully dragging the reader up to a highest point right in the middle, like a roller coaster, then speeding them down towards the conclusion.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 39 comments:

ladymacbech, December 23, 2011 (view all comments by ladymacbech)
After the incredible 40+ years I had as a teacher, and having enjoyed ages of preschool through early college -and in that order - catagorizing anyone as "special needs" is an insult. The parents and I would have been the ones with special needs, if I had had to limit my students and myself in working through an enormous volume of experiences leading to knowledge in some form. This book was easily read in a few hours, and a second visit made the main character shout "GO-O-OA-ll." I Loved this book, the main character, his mom and the cover too.
(Note; my early years teaching in public school, rarely included "labeled" students. Mainly because most of the recognized "tags" of the last years were not known. The earliest one I delt with was "cross dominance," and most of the "challenged" students were not included in the schools in any form.)
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Tim Lewis, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Tim Lewis)
One of the rare things in books is distinct author voice. This book is one of those that the reader gets the feeling that the protagonist really is the person doing the writing. The end of the book truly brought me back to reality and cried out empathy for the kid without wrapping things up in a neat little bow with everyone singing and holding hands. Not what I expected, but pleasantly surprised.
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Gracie, April 2, 2011 (view all comments by Gracie)
This is a pretty amazing book. I didn't really know what to expect going in, but it's a fascinating story about an autistic boy who sees the world differently from most other people. Christopher sees things both as being more complicated and less complicated than everyone else does. Extremely intelligent and logical, he has a great deal of difficulty with people and emotions. So when he begins investigating the murder of a neighborhood dog and comes upon an even greater mystery about what truly happened to his mother, he confronts confusion and fear unlike any he's ever known before and he must learn to rely on himself.

The story is very well crafted. Christopher journals his experience in painstaking detail, with order, organization, literal honesty, and refreshing perspective. Mark Haddon writes beautifully and poignantly of this boy and his struggles in such a simple, straightforward manner that you can't help but feel as you read.
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(4 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Haddon, Mark
Miller, Ashley Edward
Stentz, Zack
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Savants (savant syndrome)
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Situations / Special Needs
fiction;autism;mystery;novel;england;british;family;young adult;aspergers;contemporary fiction;contemporary;psychology;literature;dogs;divorce;humor;mental illness;ya;coming of age;mathematics;murder;crime;21st century;detective;dog;children;childhood;lon
fiction;autism;mystery;novel;england;british;family;young adult;aspergers;contemporary fiction;contemporary;psychology;literature;dogs;divorce;humor;mental illness;ya;coming of age;mathematics;murder;crime;21st century;detective;dog;children;childhood;lon
fiction;autism;mystery;novel;england;british;family;young adult;aspergers;contemporary fiction;contemporary;psychology;literature;dogs;divorce;humor;mental illness;ya;coming of age;mathematics;murder;crime;21st century;detective;dog;children;childhood;lon
fiction;autism;mystery;novel;england;british;family;young adult;aspergers;contemporary;contemporary fiction;psychology;literature;divorce;dogs;humor;mental illness;ya;coming of age;mathematics;murder;crime;detective;21st century;dog;children;childhood;lon
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Vintage Contemporaries
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
May 2004
Grade Level:
from 7
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 12

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Young Adult » General

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400032716 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

An autistic math genius sets out to solve the murder-by-pitchfork of a neighbor's dog. The narrator's autism gives a terrific, interesting depth to his voice. Incredibly well done, Mark Haddon's debut novel is sweet, original, and moving.

"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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's also one of the best."
"Review" by , "[S]tark, funny and original....[I]t eschews most of the furnishings of high-literary enterprise as well as the conventions of genre, disorienting and reorienting the reader to devastating effect."
"Review" by , "Moving....Think of The Sound and the Fury crossed with The Catcher in the Rye and one of Oliver Sacks's real-life stories."
"Review" by , "Superb....Bits of wisdom fairly leap off the page."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy."
"Review" by , "I have never read anything quite like Mark Haddon's funny and agonizingly honest book, or encountered a narrator more vivid and memorable. I advise you to buy two copies; you won't want to lend yours out."
"Review" by , "The Curious Incident brims with imagination, empathy, and vision — plus it's a lot of fun to read."
"Review" by , "Brilliant....Delightful....Very moving, very plausible — and very funny."
"Review" by , "In this striking first novel, Mark Haddon is both clever and observant, and the effect is vastly affecting."
"Review" by , "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"
"Review" by , "Haddon's book illuminates the way one mind works so precisely, so humanely, that it reads like both an acutely observed case study and an artful exploration of...the thoughts and feelings we share even with those very different from us. (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "The novel is being marketed to a YA audience, but strong language and adult situations make this a good title for sophisticated readers of all ages. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "One of the strangest and most convincing characters in recent fiction."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , 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. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

"Synopsis" by ,

Colin Fischer cannot stand to be touched. He does not like the color blue. He needs index cards to recognize facial expressions.

But when a gun is found in the school cafeteria, interrupting a female classmate's birthday celebration, Colin is the only for the investigation. It's up to him to prove that Wayne Connelly, the school bully and Colin's frequent tormenter, didn't bring the gun to school. After all, Wayne didn't have frosting on his hands, and there was white chocolate frosting found on the grip of the smoking gun...

Colin Fischer is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, and his story--as told by the screenwriters of X-Men: First Class and Thor--is perfect for readers who have graduated from Encyclopedia Brown and who are ready to consider the greatest mystery of all: what other people are thinking and feeling.

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