The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

Rating: 3/5 stars

Publication Date: 9th May 2013

Page Count: 310 pages

Genre: Psychological Fiction / Young Adult

The Shock of the Fall

‘Reading is a bit like hallucinating…’

The Shock of the Fall is a debut novel by Nathan Filer, who is a mental health nurse and a creative writing lecturer at Bath Spa University. His novel has won multiple literary awards, including the Betty Trask Prize and has been translated into thirty+ languages.

Before finding this book in Stratford, I had never heard of it before. It’s shocking really, as when I shared my find with my friends, they were horrified that I’d never been suggested it. The fact my friends were already big fans of this book only made me more excited to read it.

Without oversharing, The Shock of the Fall‘s protagonist is a schizophrenic named Matthew Homes. He is a nineteen-year old from Bristol, struggling to deal with the tragic death of his older brother, Simon, which occurred a decade earlier.

What I love so far about this book is the way such sensitive topics are dealt with. The book is ripe with compassion and understanding when it comes to subjects such as mental illness, Down Syndrome, and the heartache of losing a loved one. Matthew has dealt with struggles and stigma throughout his life, and Filer really brings that out in his writing. Chapters will make you flinch, make you cry, make you laugh, as Matthew deals with his guilt and searches for a greater understanding.

Filer tells Matthew’s story as if he is slowly putting completing a jigsaw puzzle. The book is full of doodles and typeface, which some readers have reviewed as making the book more difficult to engage with, but I feel make Matthew’s story that much more compelling.

In all, The Shock of the Fall is a touching and sensitive book. It is a total page-turner that you could complete in one sitting. Filer’s first novel is a breath of fresh air when it comes to books that explore mental illness. His research, along with his previous job as a nurse, provides his writing with such gravitas as you can see he deeply cares about how his characters are perceived.

About the author

Nathan Filer is a writer and lecturer in creative writing. His stand-up poetry has been a regular fixture at festivals and spoken-word events across the UK and has been broadcast on BBC 3 television and radio 4, 7, and 5 Live. He is also a BBC Best New Filmmaker and holds an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University. He lives in Bristol with his partner and their daughter.

Filer’s website can be found here.

His Twitter can be found here.

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