An international literary triumph, Shtum is a powerhouse debut that untangles the complicated strands of personal identity, family history, and lapsed communication.
Drawn from author Jem Lester’s experience of raising an autistic child, Shtum is “a darker, sadder version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but just as moving” (Observer).
In this darkly funny and emotive novel, Ben Jewell has hit a breaking point. His profoundly autistic 10-year-old son, Jonah, has never spoken, and the family is struggling to cope. So when Ben and Jonah are forced to move in with Georg, Ben’s aging and cantankerous father, three generations of men—one who can’t talk, two who won’t—are thrown together. As Ben confronts single fatherhood, he must learn some harsh lessons about accountability, all before the arrival of a tribunal that will determine the future of Jonah’s education.
Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, Lester’s debut is a powerful and unapologetic story of love, sacrifice, and determination that examines the vagaries of human emotion and provokes discussion about an often misunderstood disorder. With streaks of brilliant humor and levity, Shtum is ultimately uplifting and compulsively readable, easy to recommend, and memorable long after the final pages.