Sunday, September 27, 2009

Five best novels that focus on mental disorders

Douwe Draaisma, the author of Disturbances of the Mind, teaches the theory and history of psychology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of novels that focus on mental disorders. One novel on the list:
Motherless Brooklyn
by Jonathan Lethem
Doubleday, 1999

Now that neurologists and psychiatrists tend to describe diseases rather than the case histories of individual patients, novelists have stepped in to fill the void. Many fictional characters these days suffer from syndromes and disorders, giving voice to the patient's perspective, often convincingly. In "Motherless Brooklyn," Jonathan Lethem introduces us to Lionel Essrog, also known as Freakshow, who is afflicted with a fierce case of Tourette syndrome. The thing is, he's a private eye, a challenging profession even without the twitching, barking and verbal tics that threaten to give him away. Lethem draws you inside a hectic Tourette mind, where the same compulsive urge to restore order also helps the detective to get to the bottom of a murder case.
Read about the other four novels on the list.

Motherless Brooklyn also figures in Phillip Lopate's literary guide to Brooklyn.

--Marshal Zeringue