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Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Vintage Books, 2003, pp. 272.

So, at last, on a library exit-grab, I read the book that everybody was reading in 2004. Curious is about an idiot-savant boy living in Swindon. (The author later said that his character, Christopher Boone, could be said to have Asperger’s Syndrome.) He understands mathematical and scientific theories much better than he understands anything else and prefers other creatures to homo sapiens. His parents are neither well off nor particularly capable and his condition has obviously played a part in their estrangement.

Wikipedia lists the book as a “mystery”, but this is entirely misleading not least because the perpetrator of the dog “murder” is discovered relatively quickly. It is a philosophic essay in the form of a novel and it’s theme is the relationship between logical truth and another form of truth that we might call “normal” or, perhaps, “social”. And it works reasonably well at both levels because I did care what happened to Christopher but also found the philosophy reasonably challenging. Gratifyingly, for the author, it is apparently the case that book societies in places like Texas have recommended the book and then later wanted it banned when they realised its implications.

Lincoln Allison March 2019

(Published in Times Higher Education in 2019.)