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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. Jem's first novel, Shtum, won the 2013 PFD/City University Prize for Fiction.
Author photo © Catherine Ercilla
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Debut of the Month. A rather special read indeed… there are times when you wonder how you've missed sight of, or hearing about a book, and for me this is one of them. This is a treat, a heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, jam-packed full of love treat. Ben shares his story as he literally battles to place his autistic son Jonah, into what he considers is the right school. Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s dad and we see what life is like for these three men as their worlds revolve around each other. Jem Lester writes with experience, yet he adds bittersweet, aching emotion, biting wit, and a lightness of touch that manages to skim joyfully across the pages. Letters from social services, the school, medical information, and receipts all find their way into the book, often bringing me up short and creating a link to the authenticity of the situation. ‘Shtum’ is brave, bold, and wonderful, it made me cry, rage, and laugh, and I loved every single beautiful second of it. ~ Liz Robinson
November 18th 1987. Abigail, a mother of two is making her way home to North London from a day's work at Selfridges. At Kings Cross, she gets caught up in the horrendous fire that kills 31 and injures 100. She escapes physically unscathed, but disorientated and desperate to get home to her children - nine year old Robert and six month old Samantha - she slips away from the rescue staff and begins an odyssey that instead takes her further from home. The further she gets, the freer she feels; the longer she's away, the harder it becomes to return. Thirty years pass and Robert and Samantha (now Summer) chance upon a sketch of the two of them, in the window of a bric-a-brac shop in a rundown seaside town in Lincolnshire. It does not take them time to locate the picture's previous owner, living in an isolated cottage. Their Mother. A heartwarming and heartbreaking exploration of family from Jem Lester, author of SHTUM