Jem Lester was a journalist for nine years and saw the Berlin Wall fall in 1989 – and though there, he denies personal responsibility. He was also the last journalist to interview the legendary Fred Zinnemann, before the director died. He denies responsibility for that too. As Mister Lester, he taught English and Media studies at secondary schools for nine years. He has two children, one of whom is profoundly autistic and, for them, he accepts total responsibility. He lives in London with his partner, Catherine and her two children.
Jem’s first novel, Shtum, for which he won the 2013 PFD/City University Prize for Fiction, will be published by Orion in Spring 2016.
Ten-year-old Jonah has never spoken. He can’t dress himself, feed himself, or do any of the things other boys his age can do. Jonah has severe autism and his parents, Ben and Emma, are struggling to cope.
In order to get Jonah the professional care he needs, Ben and Emma fake a separation – a strategic decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal. Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s elderly father, Georg, throwing together three generations of men who’ve never quite figured out how to communicate.
As the build-up to the tribunal intensifies and Georg’s health deteriorates, Ben veers ever closer to breaking point. Jonah, blissful in his innocence, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.
Perfect for fans of David Nicholls, THE ROSIE PROJECT and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME.
PUBLICATION DATE: 14th April 2016