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By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas | Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
 
Selected by Time as One of the Ten Best Books of the Year | A New York Times Notable Book | Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post Book World, The Christian Science Monitor, Rocky Mountain News, and Kirkus Reviews | A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist | Winner of the ALA Alex Award | Finalist for the Costa Novel Award

From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new.

Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys’ games on a frozen lake; of “nightcreeping” through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigré who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason’s search to replace his dead grandfather’s irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher’s recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.

Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell’s subtlest and most effective achievement to date.

Praise for Black Swan Green
 
“[David Mitchell has created] one of the most endearing, smart, and funny young narrators ever to rise up from the pages of a novel. . . . The always fresh and brilliant writing will carry readers back to their own childhoods. . . . This enchanting novel makes us remember exactly what it was like.”The Boston Globe
 
“[David Mitchell is a] prodigiously daring and imaginative young writer. . . . As in the works of Thomas Pynchon and Herman Melville, one feels the roof of the narrative lifted off and oneself in thrall.”Time
 
“[A] brilliant new novel . . . In Jason, Mitchell creates an evocation yet authentically adolescent voice.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Alternately nostalgic, funny and heartbreaking.”The Washington Post
 
“Great Britain’s Catcher in the Rye—and another triumph for one of the present age’s most interesting and accomplished novelists.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“This book is so entertainingly strange, so packed with activity, adventures, and diverting banter, that you only realize as the extraordinary novel concludes that the timid boy has grown before your eyes into a capable young man.”Entertainment Weekly


From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Apr 11, 2006
ISBN: 9781588365286
List price: $11.99
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In the span of exactly one year, we hear of Jason Taylor’s story as a thirteen-year-old living in England during the 80’s. Jasonwants nothing more than to survive his first year as a teen by going unnoticed. He avoids certain words so his stammer remainshidden. He tries to be a perfect, agreeable son so as to not trigger another argument between his parents. And when at all possible,he does his best to be out of the radar of picked-on kids. Jason has a passion and talent for writing poetry, but keeps that secrethidden by submitting his work under a pseudonym. This is an eloquent coming-of-age story which will certainly remain withreaders for a very long time. Though the English jargon may be a little tough to interpret through some of the reading, it is a novelwith which all can identify and appreciate for the wonderful piece of literature it is.read more
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This is about thirteen year old Jason Taylor between childhood and that awkward time of adolescence. Each chapter reads like a short story as he deals with schoolyard bullies, those strange creatures called girls and his first kiss all the while living with stuttering!Wonderful with many laugh at loud moments. One of those books that make you realise why it is you love to read.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
BSG follows the rite of passage of a thirteen year old schoolboy in an English village. It's set in the early 80s and charts the rise and fall of his popularity, his struggle not to reveal a debilitating stammer, and the eventual victory over his bullying schoolmates. It has a wonderful energy and pace and draws you back to your own childhood fears and struggles to find your identity. If you were a teenager in the mid 1980s you will feel right at home. It's like a book version of the film Son of Rambow but with more depth.A very enjoyable book, only let down in a few places by some slightly jarring and unnecessary internal monologue by the main character.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

In the span of exactly one year, we hear of Jason Taylor’s story as a thirteen-year-old living in England during the 80’s. Jasonwants nothing more than to survive his first year as a teen by going unnoticed. He avoids certain words so his stammer remainshidden. He tries to be a perfect, agreeable son so as to not trigger another argument between his parents. And when at all possible,he does his best to be out of the radar of picked-on kids. Jason has a passion and talent for writing poetry, but keeps that secrethidden by submitting his work under a pseudonym. This is an eloquent coming-of-age story which will certainly remain withreaders for a very long time. Though the English jargon may be a little tough to interpret through some of the reading, it is a novelwith which all can identify and appreciate for the wonderful piece of literature it is.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is about thirteen year old Jason Taylor between childhood and that awkward time of adolescence. Each chapter reads like a short story as he deals with schoolyard bullies, those strange creatures called girls and his first kiss all the while living with stuttering!Wonderful with many laugh at loud moments. One of those books that make you realise why it is you love to read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
BSG follows the rite of passage of a thirteen year old schoolboy in an English village. It's set in the early 80s and charts the rise and fall of his popularity, his struggle not to reveal a debilitating stammer, and the eventual victory over his bullying schoolmates. It has a wonderful energy and pace and draws you back to your own childhood fears and struggles to find your identity. If you were a teenager in the mid 1980s you will feel right at home. It's like a book version of the film Son of Rambow but with more depth.A very enjoyable book, only let down in a few places by some slightly jarring and unnecessary internal monologue by the main character.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It seems unfair to review this book which can only suffer in comparison with Mitchell's stellar fantasies. As an autobiographical fictionist, he is not so great. This is a readable memoir though it had a rather "researched" feel about it. The narrator knows far more about the 1980s and Britain during the Falklands War than I do - and I was there. Otherwise, some interesting stuff especially about stuttering (but better done in The King's Speech) and about boy hierarchies (but better done by D.B.C.. Pierre in Vernon God Little). Worth a read.
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Sensitive, evocative, sad and hopeful at the same moment. A brilliant novel about coming of age in early-80s England. Poor Jason Taylor, he's 13, saddled with a boring name, and growing up in the west Midlands in Thatcherite 1982. Introspection is not a strong value in his family or acquaintances.Still, Jason has sensual and sometimes magical adventures. He manages to write passable poetry (albeit under a pseudonym) and stay alive despite beatings and humiliation by his dreadful classmates. He weaves between a mature subtlety of thought and its opposite: slang-ridden, simplified boy-speak that belies his actual depth. It's great.Relationships around him crumple and fold and hurt. Families drink and fight. In his village, bigotry marauds as political concern and blind nationalism is the current trend. But it's surrounded by mystical, beautiful green and hills.The chapter entitled "Bridle Path" is especially brilliant, detailing a day's trek on said path by Jason. It's an Odyssey-like set of occurrences that makes you feel like you might well end up in Middle Earth. One of the better reads of this year.
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Jason Taylor is not like any 13-year-old kid you’ve ever met. He spends more time trying to avoid the words he needs to say than he does speaking. Using Jason’s problem with stammering is the perfect metaphor for the way many teens refuse to address problems, even when the exact words to be spoken are clearly in mind. While Jason is obviously not the prototypical 13-year-old, Mitchell still describes a young boy whose observations lack the confidence that comes with maturity and experience. This ironic distance is skillfully maintained throughout the book, even as Jason grows. We follow Jason for one year. By the end of the book, readers swear that he is as real as any student we’ve ever met. Although an adult book, Mitchell describes very real teen problems familiar to many. Black Swan Green is for that older, sophisticated reader who loves challenging, thought-provoking words.
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