Review: Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8 by Naoki Higashida, trans. David Mitchell and Keiko Yoshida

A Japanese man’s account of living with autism is a revelation, says Helen Rumbelow

The autistic writer Naoki Higashida describes being non-verbal as “agony”JUN MUROZONO

At the age of 11 a little boy in Japan won first prize in a national fairytale-writing competition. This was startling because Naoki Higashida had autism; instead of talking he made strange guttural sounds, he bit his arm and he had epic meltdowns.

What followed is a publishing fairytale. Thousands of miles away, in the depths of rural Ireland, lived an acclaimed novelist. David Mitchell had a five-year-old autistic son who was mute and prone to bashing his head on the flagstone floors of the family home. Mitchell had been nominated for the Booker prize for his novels, number9dream and Cloud Atlas, and it was to books that he turned to find the way out of this nightmare.

But all the books by autism experts…

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