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Shtum: A Novel Audiobook, by Jem Lester Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jem Lester Narrator: Liam Gerrard Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2017 ISBN: 9781538434697
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Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, the impassioned debut novel about fathers, sons, and autism

In this darkly funny and emotive debut, Ben Jewell has hit a breaking point. His profoundly autistic ten-year-old son Jonah has never spoken, and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope. When Ben and Emma fake a separation―a strategic yet ill-advised decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal to determine the future of his education―father and son are forced to move in with Georg, Ben’s elderly and cantankerous father. In a small house in north London, three generations of men―one who can’t talk; two who won’t―are thrown together.

As Ben confronts single fatherhood, he must battle a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons to advocate for his son, learning some harsh lessons about accountability from his own father along the way. As the tribunal draws near, Jonah, blissful in his innocence, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history, and misunderstanding are finally untangled. This fiercely funny debut examines the complexities of family and human emotion and gives profound insight into an often-misunderstood disorder.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Funny yet heartbreaking.”

    Independent (London)

  • “Paints a vivid portrait of a family under siege by this most mysterious of contemporary maladies. To its credit, Shtum proposes humor as a balm in even the darkest of situations. If paying detailed attention to one’s characters is a form of love, it is also a powerful, and even remarkable, love letter to a child.”

    Washington Post

  • “At its heart are the things they need to say to each other but often keep ‘shtum’ about―and the child who says nothing, but communicates his needs eloquently.”

    Financial Times (London)

  • “This is a remarkable book, at once hilarious, horrifying, and heartbreaking…[an] entirely plausible yet surreal portrait. Highly recommended for families affected by spectrum disorders and anyone interested in an entertaining novel about a decidedly unentertaining situation.”

    Toronto Star

  • “Prepare for an unsweetened heart-shredder of a novel, as raw as it is real. Shtum packs the power of authenticity, but is also beautifully written and tinged with humor.”

    Jewish Chronicle

  • “A darker, sadder version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but just as moving.”

    Observer (London)

  • “An emotional and uplifting tale of love and sacrifice…Complex characters and wonderful descriptions combine to create an honest yet blunt portrayal of the trials and triumphs associated with raising a child with autism.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • A LitHub Pick of Best Reviewed Books This Week
  • Longlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award

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About the Author

Jem Lester was a journalist for nine years who covered the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 before teaching English and media studies at secondary schools. He has two children, one of whom is profoundly autistic. He lives in London with his partner, Catherine, and her two children.

About the Narrator

Liam Gerrard is an award-winning voice artist with over ten years of experience working in every field of the voice industry, as well as a highly acclaimed stage and screen actor. A 2017 Audie Award nominee, he has narrated over thirty audiobooks in a wide range of genres and styles.