The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a novel by Mark Haddon about a teenager with a disability and how his family deals with it. The main character is this novel is Christopher John Francis Boone and he has Autism. Although his disability is never actually stated in the book it is made quite apparent through his thoughts and actions. In some editions of the book there is a note on the back cover stating that Christopher has Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism or Savant syndrome. He lives with his father in Swindon, England.
The novel begins with Christopher discovering his neighbours dog has been killed with a garden fork. This begins the mystery of who killed Wellington. Christopher decides to play the detective, solve this mystery and write a book about it along the way. Little does Christopher know, he will end up finding out some family secrets which will lead him to Wellington’s killer.
There is much more to this novel than the mystery of the dog. It explores how two parents deal differently with having a disabled son and how the mind of a person with Autism works. Christopher is a gifted mathematician and the novel includes maths puzzles and logic. The chapters of this novel are numbered only in prime numbers and each chapter alternates between action related directly to the mystery and a chapter on an unrelated aspect of Christopher’s life.
Christopher is a very touching character that really makes the reader feel how hard it must be to live everyday in a world where you just can’t process all the information coming at you. It shows how simple messages and emotions that we all understand and take for granted, can seem alien and confusing to those living with Autism, and can be quite distressing. That said, this novel is easy to read and accessible for many different levels of readers. It is suitable for young teenagers to adults.
This novel was printed in 2003 and won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. It was also a joint winner of the 2004 Boeke Prize.