As you may remember, late last year I was privileged to receive an advance review copy of Shtum from the publishers, Orion. I cannot express my delight adequately. I have not stopped talking about this book, it will be a phenomenon (and deservedly so). Shtum defies explanation and is a must-read (see my review here). I can’t keep quiet about it!
So I’m thrilled to be part of the launch celebrations for the utterly fabulous Shtum by Jem Lester, which was published on Thursday 7th April by Orion Books in hardback, e-book and audio download. Today I’m delighted to welcome Jem Lester to my blog, where he discusses his five favourite authors.
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.
On his inspiration for the book he says: “I think, initially, the idea for Shtum came from the realisation that my own non-verbal, autistic son was more forthright in expressing his wants and needs than I was. Of course, I wanted to dismantle the stereotype of the ‘gifted’ autistic child but at the same time I thought it imperative that the joy and humour of these wonderful, innocent children was recognised and celebrated.”
Guest Post by Jem Lester – my five favourite authors:
Martin Cruz Smith
I saw the film of MCS’s novel, Gorky Park, on its opening in 1983. In 1980 I had been to Moscow and Leningrad as a 14-year-old and remained fascinated with the USSR and what I had seen. After the film I bought the book and began a love affair with his writing and the life of Chief Invetigator, Arcady Renko. Without giving anything away, the second in the series, Polar Star, takes place aboard a Soviet factory ship, with Renko on the slime line. Brilliant writing and setting. Through luck, or by design, Cruz Smith is able to follow all the machinations and upheaval as the USSR fell apart, with his brilliant creation, Renko, mirroring its decline. I always pre-order the hardback.
Philip Roth, From ‘Goodbye Columbus’ in 1959 to ‘Nemeses’ in 2010, Philip Roth produced some of the most affecting books I have ever read. The great chronicler of American Jewish life and of American mores, Roth’s body of work stands against anyone’s and has had a big influence on my own writing.
It’s not just that he writes standing up that I find impressive (yes, he does, it’s true), but the feeling I get as a reader that it is effortless, that every brilliant sentence, every paragraph arrives fully formed.
I first came upon John Rebus in The Falls, in 2001. I found both the character and the book compelling. Then arrives the great moment when you do a bit of research and realise with joy that there are ELEVEN previous titles in the series. Over the next couple of months, I caught up with John Rebus and Siobhan Clarke and Ian Rankin’s brilliant evocation of Edinburgh’s darker side and then – and since – have watched publishing news for the announcement of a new arrival.
I now share a publisher and editor with Ian Rankin, which is extraordinary, and I reread the whole series at least once every couple of years. Brilliant.
While browsing new books in Waterstones Hampstead, in 1999, I came across a book entitled: Seeking Whom He May Devour. I loved the construction of the title and the blurb made the book sound quirky, so I bought it.
How glad am I that I did?
Vargas’s crime fiction is like no other. Her detective, Commissaire Adamsberg, is the anthithesis of the hardnosed cop. He is slightly disheveled, given to flights of fancy and regularly ‘drifts off’ to let his thoughts coalesce. Set in Paris, all Vargas books feature often horrendous murders, but the cast of quirky, human characters provides a humorous, absorbing counterpoint.
What more can I say other than His Dark Materials! A trilogy of novels so brilliant in conception and execution, they demand – and get -regular re-reading. Just wonderful books that transcend age differences and defy genre. Philip Pullman’s creative of worlds, and the complexity of his narratives leaves me in awe.
Jem Lester, April 2016
Please take time to visit the other fabulous bloggers on the Shtum Blog Tour
Thanks for stopping by! MetLineReader