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Black Swan Green Hardcover – 8 May 2006
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|Hardcover, 8 May 2006||
- Publisher : Sceptre (8 May 2006)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0340924217
- ISBN-13 : 978-0340924211
- Dimensions : 16.6 x 25 x 4 cm
- Customer Reviews:
About the Author
Born in 1969, David Mitchell grew up in Worcestershire. After graduating from Kent University, he taught English in Japan, where he wrote his first novel, Ghostwritten. Published in 1999, it was awarded the Mail on Sunday John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His second novel, number9dream, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and in 2003, David Mitchell was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. His third novel, Cloud Atlas, was shortlisted for six awards including the Man Booker Prize, and adapted for film in 2012. It was followed by Black Swan Green, shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which was a No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. Both were also longlisted for the Booker.
In 2013, The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida was published in a translation from the Japanese by David Mitchell and KA Yoshida. It was an immediate bestseller in the UK and later in the US as well.
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There’s an entertaining link to his more famous novel The Cloud Atlas and well-observed and beautifully written passages about growing up in the Eighties, the constant fight to avoid bullies at school and out of school, trying to understand your parents and learning about girls. There’s not all that much of a character arc but it really doesn’t matter – it’s a great snapshot of a point in time and if it is not somewhat autobiographical then its a very convincing character that Mitchell has created in the form of Jason.
The details about how Jason’s stammer ‘behaves’ and how he fights to control it is very interesting and although some of the content is rather painful it’s not without its humour or poetry. A thirteen-year-old’s fight to have some kind of control over his life and form a comfortable identity is very well portrayed.
On the downside, the story itself was a bit bland for David Mitchell. I know it's an outlier in his usual body of work, but the coming of age narrative just didn't strike a spark for me. The tendency to stop chapters abruptly was also really frustrating by the end!
Still a solid 3 stars, possibly 3.5 due to how much I enjoyed the writing style and for the nod to Robert Frobisher, but if you're looking for the "usual" David Mitchell then you could skip this one and not really be missing out.
I am only a little bit younger than the main character, whilst I grew up in a city and not a small village, as he did, Mitchells depiction of growing up in the 1980's certainly chimes with my recollections. Bad things happen, good things happen, he grows up. Its just a nice, warm, comforting read.
For me, I have this book in the same mental pigeon hole I have Iain Banks' Crow Road.
Characters cross over from a couple of other Mitchell novels too - Eva (daughter of Vyvyan) Ayres from Cloud Atlas is slightly shoehorned in to give a lecture on poetry, and a young Neal Brose, before his stint as a Hong Kong trader in Ghostwritten, is also present as one of Jason's classmates.
By far Mitchell's most accessible novel, my wife also enjoyed it (probably even more than I did) and it's that rare beast of a book that is both literary and could be given as a gift to pretty much anyone safe in the knowledge that they'll find something inside to connect with and enjoy.