The writer on how translating The Reason I Jump for his non-verbal autistic son was a lifesaver and his excitement at seeing the new Matrix film he co-wrote.
Author David Mitchell, 52, was born in Southport, grew up in Malvern and now lives near Cork in Ireland. He published the first of his nine novels, Ghostwritten, aged 30. He has been twice shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, for number9dream and Cloud Atlas. He has also written opera libretti and screenplays. Mitchell translated the autism memoir The Reason I Jump from Japanese to English with his wife, Keiko Yoshida. Written by Naoki Higashida when he was 13, the book became an international bestseller and has now been turned into an award-winning documentary also featuring Mitchell.
What was your experience of reading The Reason I Jump for the first time?
My son had been fairly recently diagnosed. We had no idea what was happening in his head or how to help him. It felt a little like we’d lost our son. My wife ordered this book from Japan, began reading it at the kitchen table and verbally translating bits for me. There were startling overlaps between Naoki and our son’s behaviours – plus pretty persuasive explanations for those behaviours. Our four-year-old was hitting his head repeatedly on the kitchen floor and we had no clue why. This book arrived in the middle of that and, God, it was a lifesaver.