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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Paperback – May 18, 2004
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From The New Yorker
The fifteen-year-old narrator of this ostensible murder mystery is even more emotionally remote than the typical crime-fiction shamus: he is autistic, prone to fall silent for weeks at a time and unable to imagine the interior lives of others. This might seem a serious handicap for a detective, but when Christopher stumbles on the dead body of his neighbor's poodle, impaled by a pitchfork, he decides to investigate. Christopher understands dogs, whose moods are as circumscribed as his own ("happy, sad, cross and concentrating"), but he's deaf to the nuances of people, and doesn't realize until too late that the clues point toward his own house and a more devastating mystery. This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy; whether describing Christopher's favorite dream (of a virus depopulating the planet) or his vision of the universe collapsing in a thunder of stars, the author makes his hero's severely limited world a thrilling place to be.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
“Gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent.” —The Boston Globe
“Moving. . . . Think of The Sound and the Fury crossed with The Catcher in the Rye and one of Oliver Sacks’s real-life stories.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"This is an amazing novel. An amazing book." —The Dallas Morning News
“A superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement
“Brilliant. . . . Delightful. . . . Very moving, very plausible—and very funny.” —Oliver Sacks
“Superb. . . . Bits of wisdom fairly leap off the page.” —Newsday
“Disorienting and reorienting the reader to devastating effect. . . . As suspenseful and harrowing as anything in Conan Doyle.” —Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review
“Extraordinarily moving, often blackly funny. . . . It is hard to think of anyone who would not be moved and delighted by this book.” —Financial Times, London
"Both clever and observant." —The Washington Post
“Full of whimsical surprises and tender humor.” —People
“[Haddon] illuminates a core of suffering through the narrowly focused insights of a boy who hasn’t the words to describe emotional pain.” —New York Daily News
"Outstanding. . . . A stunningly good read." —The Independent
“Engrossing . . . flawlessly imagined and deeply affecting.” —Time Out New York
“A remarkable book from a writer with very special talent.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“The Curious Incident is the rare book that repays reading twice in quick succession.” —Detroit Free Press
"Heart-in-the-mouth stuff, terrifying and moving. Haddon is to be congratulated for imagining a new kind of hero." —The Daily Telegraph
“This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy.” —The New Yorker
“Haddon’s book illuminates the way one mind works so precisely, so humanely, that it reads like both an acutely observed case study and an artful exploration of a different ‘mystery’: the thoughts and feeling we share even with those very different from us.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Mark Haddon’s portrayal of an emotionally disassociated mind is a superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement
"A murder mystery, a road atlas, a postmodern canvas of modern sensory overload, a coming-of-age journal and lastly a really affecting look at the grainy inconsistency of parental and romantic love and its failures. . . . In this striking first novel, Mark Haddon is both clever and observant, and the effect is vastly affecting." —The Washington Post
“Haddon’s gentle humor reminds us that facts don’t add up to a life, that we understand ourselves only through metaphor.” —Chicago Tribune
“Beautifully written. . . . Heart-in-the-mouth stuff, terrifying and moving. Haddon is to be congratulated for imagining a new kind of hero, for the humbling instruction this warm and often funny novel offers and for showing that the best lives are lived where difference is cherished.” —The Daily Telegraph
“A detective story with a difference. . . . [Haddon] has given his unlikely hero a convincing voice–and the detective novel an interesting twist.” —The Economist
"Think Huck Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, or the early chapters of David Copperfield." —Houston Chronicle
“A tale full of cheeky surprises and tender humor. . . . A touching evolution.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Funny, sad and totally convincing.” —Time
"More so than precursors like The Sound and the Fury and Flowers for Algernon, The Curious Incident is a radical experiment in empathy." —The Village Voice
“One of the strangest and most convincing characters in recent fiction.” —Slate
“I have never read anything quite like Mark Haddon’s funny and agonizingly honest book, or encountered a narrator more vivid and memorable. I advise you to buy two copies; you won’t want to lend yours out.” —Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
“At once funny and achingly sad, this thought-provoking debut may leave us wondering if our worn coping skills are really any better than Christopher’s.” —The News and Observer
“Filled with humor and pain, [The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time] verges on profundity.” —San Jose Mercury News
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time brims with imagination, empathy, and vision–plus it’s a lot of fun to read.” —Myla Goldberg, author of Bee Season
Top customer reviews
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This is a book written from the first-person point of view of a fifteen year old boy with autism and a very good understanding of facts and numbers (maths). He focuses and relies on the here and now, the real things of this world, and math problems. He doesn't like idioms, similes, metaphors, slang, or imagination. Facts are much more preferred, thank you. The book starts on the night that he finds Wellington skewered with a garden fork on Mrs. Shears front lawn, an event that he is later blamed and questioned about. He determines that he has to find out who murdered Wellington and the life that he thought he knew and was comfortable with swiftly begins to unravel. For a boy who doesn't understand human emotions a lot of events puzzle him and he has a hard time coping and understanding why some people do and choose the things that they do, it's not logical, even if it is human.
Mark Haddon does a remarkable job at capturing the mindset and ideas of an individual with autism and expressing it in a way readers can relate to. This book illustrates how some mindsets can be different. Where some individuals focus on feelings, others enjoy literature, and still others are focused on numbers and facts, things that are measurable and recordable, like Christopher. Sometimes different mindsets make certain things easy for individuals to understand while other topics and ideas are alien and something that makes ones' head spin. This is a tale of murder, mystery, a hidden past, and an unsure future of a boy who likes to deal in absolutes and certainties. But all it takes is one variable in the equation to change for the outcome be to a different world entirely.
Overall this book is really well-written and an interesting read. Highly recommended for those working with individuals with autism or other neo-neurological learning disabilities. Also a good read for those looking for different perspectives or books that make you question the writer/reporters point of view.
Although I can truthfully say that I could understand Christopher’s feelings through each and every word, I had difficulty loving him as an individual. Throughout the book, Christopher comes to strongly dislike a certain man, but the man truly wants to love Christopher with all his heart. Christopher begins to stop displaying any sort of affection to the man, which really left me with pain in my heart. As a sympathetic person, I felt extremely horrible about the situation. I do realize that Christopher has trouble understanding others’ feelings, but if he just showed one small moment of love to the man, I would come to enjoy the main character’s unique personality.
Anyone searching for a small ray of hope would definitely come to love this book. This novel builds up to the amazing theme at the very end, which indubitably gave me ambition to do just about anything. Readers who are searching for a book filled with mystery and action will be thrilled. I can certainly say I had a wonderful little adventure of my own by reading this small paperback.
Haddon helps you understand people on the autism spectrum in terms of how they think, why they respond as they do, and how they see the world around them. You also will understand how other people affect those on the spectrum. If you have people in your life who have autism, this is a must-read.
Now, aside from that, this book is a must-read because it is written so well. Haddon never drops character as Christopher. He never takes shortcuts to make Christopher anything other than who he is, and Haddon never apologizes for Christopher's occasional hurtful reactions. These ups and downs are all part of Christopher and, as Haddon expertly shows, not much different from the ups and downs we each have. The people in Christopher's life are far crueler than he is and far more destructive. Christopher's innocence gets abused by these people, yet he never succumbs to the cynicism as most of us would.
I loved the complexities of this book, which is another thing that makes it SO GOOD to discuss.
Christopher John Francis Boone is one of my favorite fictional characters. Discover him and see if he is one of yours.