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Black Swan Green Paperback – February 27, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812974018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812974010
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. For his fourth novel, two-time Booker Prize finalist Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, etc.) turns to material most writers plumb in their first: the semiautobiographical, first-person coming-of-age story. And after three books with notably complex narrative structure, far-flung settings, and multiple viewpoints, he has chosen one narrator, 13-year-old Jason Taylor, to tell the story of one year (1982) in one town, Worcestershire's Black Swan Green. Jason starts with the January day he accidentally smashes his late grandfather's irreplaceable Omega Seamaster DeVille watch and ends with Christmas, which, because of intervening events, becomes the last he spends in this sleepy Midlands hamlet. The gorgeously revealed cast includes Jason's brilliant older sister, sarcastic mother, blustering dad and a spectrum of bullies and mates. Jason's nemesis is an intermittent, fluctuating stammer: some days he must avoid words beginning with N; other days, S. Once he is exposed, the bullies taunt him mercilessly; there is no respite for the weak or disabled in Black Swan Green nor, as the realities of Thatcher's grim reign begin to take their toll, in England writ large. How Jason and his family navigate this year of change is the emotional core of this rich novel, but the virtuoso chapter is "The Bridle Path," wherein Jason, alone for one delicious day, searches for a tunnel fabled to have been dug by the Romans in order to rout the Vikings. What he finds along the way captures the sheer pleasure of being a boy and brings to mind adventures shared by Huck and Tom. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Thirteen chapters provide a monthly snapshot of Jason Taylor's life in small-town England from January 1982 to January 1983. Whether the 13-year-old narrator is battling his stammer or trying to navigate the social hierarchy of his schoolmates or watching the slow disintegration of his parents' marriage, he relates his story in a voice that is achingly true to life. Each chapter becomes a skillfully drawn creation that can stand on its own, but is subtly interwoven with the others. While readers may not see the connectedness in the first two thirds of the book, the final three sections skillfully bring the threads together. The author does not pull any punches when it comes to the casual cruelty that adolescent boys can inflict on one another, but it is this very brutality that underscores the sweetness of which they are also capable. With its British slang and complex twists and turns, this title is not a selection for reluctant readers, but teens who enjoy multifaceted coming-of-age stories will be richly rewarded. The chapter entitled Rocks, which centers around the British conflict in the Falkland Islands in May 1982, is especially compelling as Jason and his peers deal with the death of one of their own. Mitchell has been hailed as one of the great new authors of the 21st century; with Black Swan Green, he shows again how the best books challenge readers' complacency.–Kim Dare, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

It's well crafted, well written, funny and interesting.
suger booger
Mitchell conjures this sense with such ease that Jason is a completely believable character, even as his thoughts reveal a remarkable sophistication.
Jacquelyn Gill
I'm really just stunned at how good this novel is, and how bad most contemporary fiction seems when compared with Mitchell's work.
Fuzzbottle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

161 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Jacquelyn Gill on July 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Some look back on their early adolescence with nostalgia, while others would rather forget the awkward stops and starts along the bumpy road where we begin as children and end as adults. Jason Taylor, narrator of David Mitchell's newest novel, reveals a life that is the source of both; he is a thirteen-year-old would-be poet navigating through one tragi-comic year in his young life. Each of the thirteen chapters in the novel chronicles a different month, and each features those moments in childhood that we believe at the time will mark (or scar) us forever. In Jason, Mitchell has conjured one of the most memorable and real narrators in literature; he reflects on girls, his parents' distintigrating marriage, the cruel initiations of adolescence, or the Falkland wars with equal pathos.

Black Swan Green takes place in a small English countryside town in 1982, and the book is flavored with Thatcher politics, British vernacular , and early 80's pop music. Unlike Mitchell's earlier novels, Black Swan Green is in many ways a novel about the pains and pleasures of the ordinary, and Jason scrutinizes the everyday with as much perception as major life events. Thirteen is an age where an embarrassment at school or a fight with one's parents takes on epic proportions, and yet time passes in such a way that last month's tragedies seem to fade into the distant past. Mitchell conjures this sense with such ease that Jason is a completely believable character, even as his thoughts reveal a remarkable sophistication.

In Cloud Atlas, Mitchell showed himself to be a master of the narrative voice, and in Black Swan Green he exceeds all expectations.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Man Booker Prize finalist David Mitchell's books have been praised for their complex themes and their out-of-the-box approach to storytelling. To read and understand one of his books is to feel as though you're taking apart and putting back together pieces of a puzzle in order to grasp a larger whole. Unlike his previous, more experimental novels (GHOSTWRITTEN, NUMBER9DREAM, CLOUD ATLAS), Mitchell's latest offering is more conventional and probably his most plot-driven to date --- except for the fact that nothing really happens. Nothing, that is, until after you've turned the last page. Months later, the novel's protagonist is still nestled comfortably in your brain and in your heart like a close friend who has moved away or a bittersweet memory leftover from childhood, still resonant with meaning.

BLACK SWAN GREEN chronicles thirteen months in the life of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor --- each one of the thirteen chapters mirrors each of the thirteen months during the time in which the novel takes place --- told from his perspective and at his own meandering pace. Jason, his older sister Julie, and his parents inhabit the posh countryside of Black Swan Green, a slumbering village in South Worcestershire, England. The year is 1982 and England is entrenched in both the Cold War and the short-lived war over the Falklands. Life is fairly ordinary in the small town, aside from the occasional news reel intrusion, and so are the events that transpire throughout the course of the book.

What makes this book so captivating to read is precisely the simplicity of what's being described --- mainly, Jason's transition from adolescence into semi-adulthood.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Leigh Lockhart on September 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Black Swan Green is a novel about a thirteen-yr-old English boy right on the brink of family turmoil, girls who flirt with you and then shove you off their tractor, the popularity game, and older sisters you don't realize how much you love until they leave home. However, it's not a book just for the guys. It's actually pretty entertaining from a female point of view. It's a window into the trials and tribulations of male puberty and with all of the scenarios that happen in the book, you see exactly how much life can sort of happen to you all at once, no matter your age or what you are going through personally.

I can honestly say that reading Black Swan Green was fun. Honest to God, FUN! It's a really hard book to put down once you get into the story line and the way the chapters end always leaves you wanting to read on. Being that I am a teenager myself, following Jason along for this year of his life was interesting, amusing, and even thought-provoking because Jason's was a life that was far different from my own, but one I could get into just from reading the book. You really feel like you know Jason, you feel bad for his stammer, you want everyone to know how good a poet he is as Bolivar, and you root for him in all aspects. I even enjoyed the way the book was written, like how Jason explains the hangman who only troubles him with certain words that start with certain words on certain days. The book on a whole has great imagery and such vivid descriptions that it's not hard to feel the cold weather of England, or the heat that surely rushes to Jason's face out of embarrassment when he has to say things in front of the class.

Overall, I recommend this book highly. The chronology is a little difficult to grasp at first, but you get around to putting the pieces together just in time. I had to read this for school but i'm glad to own it and will probably read it again in the future when i'm just in the mood for a good book.
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More About the Author

David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, his newest novel The Bone Clocks has been selected for the 2014 longlist. Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

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