Renee Conoulty: Shtum by Jem Lester


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Shtum by Jem Lester

Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation - a strategic decision to further Jonah's case in an upcoming tribunal - Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben's elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

A powerful, emotional, but above all enjoyable read, perfect for fans of THE SHOCK OF THE FALL and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME.

Hey! Here's my review.

Shtum is a Yiddish word that means silent or noncommunicative. It's a theme that runs throughout the novel, between three generations of Jewish men who can't or won't communicate.

I was drawn to this book because of my interest in Autism. I've worked with many people on the Autism spectrum and find it interesting to see how they are depicted in literature. Most of the books I have read are about the more highly functioning end of the scale such as people with Asperger's or Savant's. My experience with Autism is more on the other end of the scale and I felt it was well depicted here with Jonah's character. 

I found the story emotionally engaging. I really liked Ben, imperfections and all, and I hoped everything would work out for him. 

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook


  1. Replies
    1. I really enjoyed it. Let me know weekday you thought if you pick it up.