Jem Lester, Keith Stuart and Adam Feinstein: Fathers, Sons and Autism
Chair: Adam Feinstein
Funny and moving in equal measure, Jem Lester’s Shtum and Keith Stuart’s A Boy Made of Blocks reflect the authors’ personal experiences with their autistic sons. In Shtum, Jonah – blissful in his innocence – becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled. To eight-year-old Sam in A Boy Made of Blocks the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own, but when he plays Minecraft it opens up a place where he and his father begin to rediscover both themselves and each other. In conversation with Adam Feinstein, also the father of an autistic son.
Jem Lester was a journalist for nine years and saw the Berlin Wall fall in 1989. He was also the last journalist to interview the legendary Fred Zinnemann, before the director died. He taught English and Media studies at secondary schools for nine years and has two children, one of whom is profoundly autistic. Jem's first novel,Shtum, won the 2013 PFD/City University Prize for Fiction.
Keith Stuart is the Guardian's games editor. He was writer and features editor for The Edge before going freelance in 2000 to cover games culture for several publications, as well as investigating digital and interactive art for Frieze. He also writes about music, film and media for the Guardian and is a regular on the Tech Weekly podcast. He lives in Somerset.
Adam Feinstein is an acclaimed British autism researcher, writer, broadcaster, poet and translator. His book, A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), was praised worldwide. He has given talks at conferences all over the world, including Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, China, India, Argentina and Mexico. He is the founder and editor of the international autism magazine, Looking Up (www.lookingupautism.org). His much-lauded biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, was re-issued in an updated edition by Bloomsbury in 2013. His new book on autism and employment is due out in 2017. He has a son with autism.