Author(s): Mark Haddon
The most keenly awaited book of the year - the brilliant new novel by the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was the best loved and one of the bestselling novels of recent years. Winner of no fewer than seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award, it was published simultaneously in adult and children's editions and was a bestseller in both.
Now Haddon returns with a novel of such warmth, such humour, such insight into human frailty that it is destined to equal or even outdo the performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
A Spot of Bother begins with George Hall, a retired man in his sixties, finding a mark on his hip. He is at once convinced that he has skin cancer and, with death apparently just round the corner, begins acting oddly. His wife, Jean, is of course concerned, but she has other things on her mind: their daughter Katie announces that she is getting married to a man she and George do not wholly approve of, and Jean herself is carrying on an affair with a former work colleague of George's. The fourth member of the Hall family is Jamie, an estate agent, who is having problems committing himself to his boyfriend Tony.
It is hard to think of another writer whose lines are simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny, achingly poignant and deeply horrifying. And few authors demonstrate such unashamed love for their damaged characters - a love made meaningful by a penetrating understanding of the human part of human folly.
A Spot of Bother is another triumph for Mark Haddon - part family farce, part clear-eyed presentation of mental illness, part novel of manners, but inimitably in his own fantastic, familiar voice.
George Hall doesn't understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. 'The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.' Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored. At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased - as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has 'strangler's hands'. Katie can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband's former colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials. Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.The way these damaged people fall apart - and come together - as a family is the true subject of Mark Haddon's disturbing yet very funny portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely. First published 2006.
The most keenly awaited book of the year - the brilliant new novel by the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
Mark Haddon is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written fifteen books for children and won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was published simultaneously by Jonathan Cape and David Fickling in 2003. It won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award. His poetry collection, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea was published by Picador in 2005. Mark Haddon lives in Oxford.