Title: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
Author: Mark Haddon
Accolade: 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year, Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book
Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy, is autistic. He is a keen observer, adept at solving math problems and knows every prime number up to 7057. He attends a school for children with special needs and his pet-rat 'Toby' keeps him company after school. He doesn't like being touched, dislikes meeting strangers (because of the 'stranger-danger' thing taught at school) and won't tell lies (except a 'White Lie'). He abhors anything that is Yellow / Brown, but loves 'Red' color. He won't eat two foods if they touch each other on the plate. His favorite dish 'Aloo Saag', which is yellow, is OK though, as long as its camouflaged with red-dye powder. Witnessing four yellow cars in a row makes it a 'Black Day' (Neither does he eat anything nor does he talk to anyone on a Black Day) and five red cars in a row makes in a 'Super Good Day'. Walking down streets or places crowded with people makes him jittery and he comforts himself by grouching and groaning or doing some mental calculus. He hardly ever ventures out and likes to shuts himself in his house and play on his computer.
One day Christopher walks into his neighbor Mrs.Shears house to find her dog 'Wellington' killed by a garden fork. Troubled by the event, he begins to investigate the murder. Christopher wants to solve the case just like the way he solves his math puzzles. But, his father Ed won't let him get any further. He confiscates the diary he was using to jot down his observations with the murder-mystery case and hides it somewhere. When Christopher searches around the house for his missing diary, he not only uncovers what he meant to find; but also something that he was unprepared for...
Written from the perspective of an autistic child, this touching novel offers a great insight into the world of autism - a place where normal human behavior and emotions have little meaning. Human brain is very complicated as such. And, that of an autistic child is even difficult to comprehend. But, Mark Haddon writes with such beauty and poignancy that I begin to wonder if anyone else could have said it better. With so many wonderful hand-drawn illustrations, this could be one of the rare novels you will ever find. I wonder how I missed such a gem of a novel. Probably, I must have been living in a cave or something ...
My Rating: 4.8/5