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Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green

Book rating: 05 Paperback Sceptre

By (author) David Mitchell

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  • Publisher: Sceptre
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 198mm x 26mm | 299g
  • Publication date: 1 April 2007
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0340822805
  • ISBN 13: 9780340822807
  • Sales rank: 9,114

Product description

January, 1982. Thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor - covert stammerer and reluctant poet - anticipates a stultifying year in his backwater English village. But he hasn't reckoned with bullies, simmering family discord, the Falklands War, a threatened gypsy invasion and those mysterious entities known as girls. Charting thirteen months in the black hole between childhood and adolescence, this is a captivating novel, wry, painful and vibrant with the stuff of life.

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Author information

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. David Mitchell's sixth novel is The Bone Clocks (Sceptre, 2014).

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 20 Jun 2012 5

Black Swan Green is the 4th novel by David Mitchell. It describes a year in the life of Jason Taylor, an intense, thoughtful but stammering thirteen-year-old budding poet living in darkest Worcestershire. Set in 1982, this is a very realistic rendition of the anxieties and challenges faced by teenagers in the early eighties. Each chapter details the events of one or more days in the months of that year. Through the beautiful prose of his narration, we join Jason in boyish adventures and coming-of-age rituals (first cigarette, initiation rites, first kiss), and we learn of his ambitions (poetry, forestry) and his anxieties (stammering, the Falklands war, his parents' relationship, girls). In that time of life when image is all important and peer pressure is strong, Jason tries to navigate a path that does not betray his values and ambitions but doesn't damage his credibility of make him look "too gay". Jason's relationship with his family and his true friends is heartwarming and the poet hidden inside the young man is apparent in his thoughts and descriptions. Ultimately, he finds the courage he needs to face his demons. His naiveté, observations and occasional ignorance make for many laugh-out-loud moments, but the scariest thing about this novel was that I knew all the songs and artists mentioned from first appearance. This coming-of-age novel is at least as good as Jasper Jones. A dazzling read.

Review quote

David Mitchell is dizzyingly, dazzlingly good ... Black Swan Green is just gorgeous. -- Eithne Farry Daily Mail A delight to read from beginning to end Sunday Express Luminously beautiful The Times I do hope to read a better British novel this year, but I can't honestly say that I expect to. Scotsman Mitchell is just about the best writer operating in Britain today ... a novel that, like each of its predecessors, sticks in the back of your head for weeks after you've finished it. -- Mat Smith Arena Spry, disconcerting and moving. It is also extremely funny even - or especially - at the blackest of moments. -- Kate Kellaway Observer Intricate and beautiful Time Out Hugely touching and enjoyable -- Rachel Cooke Observer It is the best kind of contemporary fiction TLS Rich and strange Guardian All the drama and inadvertent comedy of the onset of adolescence are brilliantly laid bare ... a deceptively easy read, at times uproariously funny -- Joel Rickett Evening Standard Black Swan Green's 'I love 1982' nostalgia is a glassy, pitch-perfect, mock-innocent surface through which something rotten might appear -- Ali Smith Sunday Telegraph