'A darker, sadder version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but just as moving' THE OBSERVER
'Funny yet heart-breaking' INDEPENDENT
'A book with true heart and soul' Joanna Cannon, author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP
Ben Jewell has hit breaking point.
His ten-year-old son, Jonah, has never spoken. So when Ben and Jonah are forced to move in with Ben's elderly father, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.
As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult home truths.
Jonah, blissful in his ignorance, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.
*SELECTED FOR THE RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB WITH SIMON MAYO*
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. He taught English and Media studies at secondary schools for nine years. Jem has two children, one of whom is profoundly autistic, and for them he accepts total responsibility. He lives in London with his partner and her two children.
Jem's first novel, SHTUM, won the 2013 PFD/City University Prize for Fiction.
A darker, sadder version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but just as moving — OBSERVER
'Jem Lester writes so beautifully, it feels as if you're eavesdropping on a conversation. Shtum is a book with true heart and soul, and I loved every word' — Joanna Cannon, author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP
Angry and fiercely funny . . . The ending tears the heart out; this is an unforgettable first novel — THE TIMES
This is the literary territory of Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby, infused with the Jewish humour of Howard Jacobson and Shalom Auslander . . . an impressive novel that gives a very accurate portrayal of the struggles some families of autistic children endure, while taking the reader on an exhilarating roller coaster ride between pathos, comedy and anger — GUARDIAN
Moving and, at times, painfully sad, Lester's account is also darkly funny. It is an important reminder of the complex spectrum of human emotion, and a profound insight into an often misunderstood disorder — STYLIST
'SHTUM is a thought-provoking novel about the silent ties between generations, with a wonderful child character at its heart. I loved Jonah and ached for the impossible decisions his family had to face' — Julie Cohen
Highly intelligent, warm-hearted and clearly based on experience — THE SUNDAY TIMES
Powerful, unapologetic and deeply moving, Jem Lester mines a hard-hitting story to discover dark humour and surprising warmth. It's a book that breaks your heart but ultimately uplifts. A simply stunning novel — Miranda Dickinson
One to watch — THE SUN
A tale of family, loss, self-discovery and forgiveness. Prepare to be moved by its beauty — HEAT MAGAZINE
Warm, funny and sad — DAILY EXPRESS
Funny yet heart-breaking, the book is likely to be enjoyed by fans of The Rosie Project and The Shock of the Fall — INDEPENDENT
Jem Lester manages to capture a difficult and often heart-wrenching story of a family coping with an autistic son, writing with a fast pace and levity that somehow doesn't lessen any of the emotion of this wonderful novel. A must for your reading list — GRAZIA
With shades of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time this former journalist's debut is informed by his own experiences with his non-verbal autistic son — BIG ISSUE
'Stunningly frank, raw and bold . . . Shtum is a welcome and timely addition to the growing body of books about autism: pacy, blunt and honest, with a despairing humour that warms even the most desperate moments. As a reader, I was gripped and moved by it; as the parent of an autistic child, I was grateful for it' — Alison Mercer
A book that has you laughing one minute and is breaking your heart the next. — WOMAN AND HOME
An emotive, button-pushing read that should come with a packet of tissues — RED MAGAZINE
'[Lester] tells a memorable story full of dark humour and heart twistingly sad insight, about the bond between fathers and sons' — SUNDAY MIRROR
[Lester carries] off this challenging storyline with spectacular success. There are some very sad moments, but far more that are blackly funny. Lester is superb at comic cameo, and the local authority jobsworths with whom Ben must deal are hilariously drawn. But it is Georg, Ben's severe and loving father, who is the novel's towering achievement; a complex man whose tragic past illuminates the present — DAILY MAIL
Bleak, candid, funny and touching, this impressively impassioned debut novel reveals how a lack of words does not signify a lack of love — SUNDAY EXPRESS MAGAZINE
Drawing on his own experience of raising an autistic child, Jem Lester has made this a frank and warm portrait of three men bumbling through life — INDEPENDENT
'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
A dazzling debut. — DAILY MAIL