Mark Haddon's bitterly funny debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is a murder mystery of sorts--one told by an autistic version of Adrian Mole. Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone is mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child's quirks. He takes everything that he sees (or is told) at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange behavior of his elders and peers.
Late one night, Christopher comes across his neighbor's poodle, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork. Wellington's owner finds him cradling her dead dog in his arms, and has him arrested. After spending a night in jail, Christopher resolves--against the objection of his father and neighbors--to discover just who has murdered Wellington. He is encouraged by Siobhan, a social worker at his school, to write a book about his investigations, and the result--quirkily illustrated, with each chapter given its own prime number--is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Haddon's novel is a startling performance. This is the sort of book that could turn condescending, or exploitative, or overly sentimental, or grossly tasteless very easily, but Haddon navigates those dangers with a sureness of touch that is extremely rare among first-time novelists. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is original, clever, and genuinely moving: this one is a must-read. --Jack Illingworth, Amazon.ca
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Playwright Simon Stephens ... not only frames the action, but also sets up a rich tension between fiction's invention and the obsession with facts, forensics and systemised data that is a symptom of Christopher's autism ... this is a highly skilful adaptation -- Michael Billington Guardian A curiously successful case of a hit novel turned into a play ... This is a profoundly moving play about adolescence, fractured families, mathematics, colours and lights -- Michael Coveney Independent This adaptation by the acclaimed playwright Simon Stephens is intensely, innately theatrical; it is also funny and extremely moving -- Laura Thompson Daily Telegraph Seeing an adaptation of a book that you have loved can inspire a certain nervousness but fans of A Curious Incident should have no such worry when going to see the National's faithful and imaginative adaptation. It is a triumph, capturing the depth and touching nature of the original text and adding theatrical sensibilities to great effect. Highly recommended. Londonist As adaptations of much-loved fiction go, Simon Stephens' perky and imaginative version ... is an instant classic What's On Stage Simon Stephens' clever adaptation of Mark Haddon's bestselling novel about a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome is like a cute dog that leaps up and wants to lick you all over. There's no point in resisting - and there's no need ... The novel gets you inside Christopher's head, but the stage version does more, giving Christopher's internal response to the world an external manifestation. -- Lyn Gardner Guardian This is a really superior stage adaptation. Instead of just transposing the book. Stephens has recreated it for the stage... It doesn't shirk the discomfort of being a child with special needs, but -as Christopher learns to believe in himself- it also quietly illustrates some of the excitement of living in your own world. -- Aleks Sierz Tribune A bittersweet story told with verve and passion. -- Siobhan Murphy Metro