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Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers. In 2004, he won the Foyle Young Poets award, and he is a published poet. He studied for a BA in English Literature at Stirling University and a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. Joe lives in London with his long-suffering girlfriend, short-suffering baby, and much-aggrieved cat. The Rules of Seeing is his first novel.
32-year-old multi-lingual Nova works as an interpreter for the police. Blind since birth, an operation that restores her sight heralds the beginning of a bewildering journey to understand the world from scratch. The novel is brilliant in offering insights into Nova’s experience of blindness as readers feel her struggle to re-learn everything through her newly-opened eyes. While recovering from the operation, Nova meets Kate, who’s in hospital after sustaining a head injury. The women strike up an immediate bond, which becomes a tender friendship – and more – as they find they are entirely at home in each other’s company, able to open up, experience joy and see the world in new ways through each other’s interpretation of the world. Throughout, Nova’s “Rules of Seeing” notes serve as practical guidelines with metaphoric meaning - “The brain will hang onto objects after you have stopped looking” – and the novel is fascinating on the nature of perception. Nova’s “childlike wonder” when enjoying new experiences is infectious, while the intense expositions of Kate’s husband’s increasingly chilling actions are powerfully authentic and give this novel the page-turning urgency of a thriller. Raw, and radiant with the promise of new life and love, this dazzling debut comes recommended for readers who relish new novels by Mark Haddon, Matt Haig and Marina Lewycka.