Shtum: Silent, non-communicative. That is what my dictionary tells me. Maybe you are keeping Shtum to keep a secret, maybe you don’t have the words or maybe you don’t have a voice. Shtum by Jem Lester tells the story of three generations of men locked in silence for all these reasons.
First of all, we meet Ben Jewell: middle aged, lapsed North London Jew, alcoholic and father to Jonah. He is happily married to Emma who is a lawyer. Ben, we learn, works for his father’s catering hire company, so you need plates and cutlery for a party then Ben is the man go to. Jonah is ten, profoundly autistic and doesn’t speak. Not speaking is just the tip of the iceberg. He is also doubly incontinent, which means that, whilst most of us waved goodbye to the nappy bag and wipes after a couple of years, Ben and Emma are still on intimate terms with their son’s poo and pee.
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