The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Submitted 3 years 5 months ago by Sophia Blackwell.
There are people who describe themselves (and others) as ‘a bit Aspergers,’ but Christopher, the protagonist of Mark Haddon’s classic young adult crossover novel, is the real deal; a teenage maths genius who can’t even interpret emotions when they’re expressed in sad or smiley faces on paper. Recently adapted into an award-winning London theatre show by wildly talented playwright Simon Stephens, Haddon’s simple but unique story continues to grow in influence. Once as ubiquitous on Tube journeys as One Day and, before that, Captain Corelli, The Curious Incident has had many imitators since its publication, but few attempts have matched up to its quirky charm and rigorous intellect. It even includes mathematical diagrams, which Christopher obviously expects us to understand as well as he does; while it’s different for everyone, at no point does Haddon‘s interpretation of autism completely fail to ring true. As well as a refreshing absence of tact and the tendency to emotionally overheat in difficult situations, one of the features of Christopher’s condition is tenacity; his single sighting of a dead dog leads him on a labyrinthine mystery and a journey to the badlands of London. As Christopher navigates the terrifying world of Tubes and strangers who reach out to him and try, with varying degrees of success, to help, he comes to terms with the bigger mystery at the heart of his life- why his father found him easier to live with than his mother, who left when he was a child. While there are so many layers of incomprehension between Christopher and the rest of the world, we can see clearly how he touches the lives of others around him, even- especially- when he’s being his glorious, exasperating self.