Thursday, April 4, 2013
Autism in Fiction
April is Autism Awareness month.
In support of the initiative to raise awareness, I offer up three recent novels dealing the theme of autism. Although we provide many non-fiction titles on the topic, the power of fiction to inform should not be overlooked.
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World : a novel (M)
by Sabina Berman ; translated by Lisa Dillman
"A transporting and brilliant novel narrated by an unforgettable woman: Karen Nieto, an autistic savant whose idiosyncrasies prove her greatest gifts. As intimate as it is profound, and as clear-eyed as it is warmhearted, Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World marks an extraordinary debut by the award-winning Mexican playwright, journalist, and poet Sabina Berman.
Karen Nieto passed her earliest years as a feral child, left alone to wander the vast beach property near her family's failing tuna cannery. But when her aunt Isabelle comes to Mexico to take over the family business, she discovers a real girl amidst the squalor. So begins a miraculous journey for autistic savant Karen, who finds freedom not only in the love and patient instruction of her aunt but eventually at the bottom of the ocean swimming among the creatures of the sea. Despite how far she's come, Karen remains defined by the things she can't do—until her gifts with animals are finally put to good use at the family's fishery. Her plan is brilliant: Consolation Tuna will be the first humane tuna fishery on the planet. Greenpeace approves, fame and fortune follow, and Karen is swept on a global journey that explores how we live, what we eat, and how our lives can defy even our own wildest expectations.
Love Anthony : a novel (M)
by Lisa Genova
"I’m always hearing about how my brain doesn’t work right…But it doesn’t feel broken to me.
Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony was gone. Now she’s alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way.
In a warm, deeply human story reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Daniel Isn’t Talking, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women on the verge of change and the irrepressible young boy with autism whose unique wisdom helps them both find the courage to move on." -Publisher
The Children of Witches (M)
by Sherri Smith
"Married to a drunken tavern-keeper, Anna Wirth takes comfort in her two sons, hard-working Konrad and the beautiful, flaxen-haired Manfred, who sings like an angel and who, some say, has been touched by God. But at the same time, Anna is desperate to prevent people finding out the truth about her younger son. That he is not like other children: he does not communicate, doesn't make eye contact, lives in his own private world, obsessed with collecting and arranging piles of leaves and stones.
When rumours of witchcraft sweep through the town, Manfred is seized by those who would use him to pursue their own agenda. As innocent townsfolk are accused, a climate of fear prevails. No one is safe - and at the centre of the terror is Anna's own son. As the death toll mouns, Anna realizes there is only one way to stop the madness. But can she act against a mother's deepest instincts?" - Publisher