From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new. Read more...
From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new. Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys' games on a frozen lake; of "nightcreeping" through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigr who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason's search to replace his dead grandfather's irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher's recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons. Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell's subtlest and most effective achievement to date. Praise for Black Swan Green " David Mitchell has created] one of the most endearing, smart, and funny young narrators ever to rise up from the pages of a novel. . . . The always fresh and brilliant writing will carry readers back to their own childhoods. . . . This enchanting novel makes us remember exactly what it was like."--The Boston Globe " David Mitchell is a] prodigiously daring and imaginative young writer. . . . As in the works of Thomas Pynchon and Herman Melville, one feels the roof of the narrative lifted off and oneself in thrall."--Time
Black Swan Green
Mitchell, author of the acclaimed Cloud Atlas (2004), returns with a spare and lovely novel told from the perspective of a teenager. Jason Taylor resides in Black Swan Green, a quiet little village in Worcestershire, with his smart, socially successful sister and quarreling parents. The year is 1982. Margaret Thatcher is in office, the Cold War is winding down, and Duran Duran are all the rage. Thirteen-year-old Jason, as the reader soon learns, has a stammer, a characteristic that gives strange shape to his life, as he edits his own vocabulary in an effort to make speaking easier. On certain days, he avoids words beginning with N, while on others, he shies away from the letter S. Life with a perfect sister only makes his deficiencies more apparentor so it seems to Jason. Mitchell's portrayal of Jason as an eccentric teen who is brilliant in his own right, full of clever insights and ingenious ideas, is a joy to read. As the novel unfolds, a cast of remarkable characters is introduced, including Dawn Madden, the voluptuous object of Jason's affection, and Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, a mysterious immigrant with her own incredible story. This beguiling novel offers plenty of humor and an unforgettable narrator in Jason, whose inner thoughts and emotions are convincingly presented by Mitchell.