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The Shock of the Fall: June book of the month

The Shock of the FallThe last time a first novel won the Costa award was eight years ago. Nathan Filer's extraordinary debut, The Shock of the Fall, beat off strong competition to scoop the 2013 prize, and has been described as the literary equivalent of Silver Linings Playbook.

Filer was a mental health nurse working as a researcher in the academic unit of psychiatry at the University of Bristol, and on in-patient psychiatric wards. He enrolled on a Creative Writing MA, and the result is a sharp, engaging and enlightening novel about (among other things), living with schizophrenia. Matthew, the narrator, is an astonishingly convincing character who is dark, funny and articulate. He also believes he can talk to his dead brother. He pieces together his family's story, including a shocking accident and the aftermath of grief and isolation, whilst slowly coming to a coherent understanding of the events.

Many writers have used madness to illuminate the human psyche, but Filer's particular skill is in giving Matthew's schizophrenia an everyday sense of normality. Matthew talks with accuracy, humour and familiarity, despite his fractured state of mind. He is an outstanding creation, with an entirely authentic voice, and a haunting presence that lingers after the book has ended.


About the author

Nathan Filer

Nathan Filer, 33, is a writer and lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. He is a qualified mental health nurse and for many years worked for the mental health service in Bristol where he still lives.

His debut novel The Shock of the Fall won Costa Book of the Year in 2014. Jo Brand, comedian, author and former mental health nurse described it as "one of the best books about mental illness." His stand-up poetry has been a regular fixture at festivals and spoken-word events across the UK, including Latitude, Port Eliot, Wilderness, Cheltenham and Hay Festival.

He has written for The Guardian, and his 2005 comedy short film Oedipus won the BBC Best New Filmmaker Award and numerous other prizes, including Berlin’s Zebra Poetry Film Award and the Audience Choice Award at Toronto's World of Comedy Film Festival.

You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathanfiler or read his blog here.


HarperCollins have 50 free copies to give to Mumsnetters – to claim yours please fill in your details below. We'll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you're not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, you can always get your paperback or kindle version here.

This giveaway closes Tuesday 27 May, so apply now. 


We are delighted that Nathan will be joining us to discuss The Shock of the Fall, his inspiration and his writing life on Tuesday 24 June, 9-10pm. So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month, pop up any advance questions and we hope to see you here on 24 June.





Last updated: over 3 years ago