The next BookTalk event will focus on Man Booker shortlisted author Simon Mawer’s controversial novel Mendel’s Dwarf.
The novel, published first in 1997 and reissued in a new edition in 2011, weaves together a reimagining of the life of Gregor Mendel, the father of genetic science, with contemporary geneticist Benedict Lambert, who is both a dwarf with achondroplasia and a distant relation of Mendel.
The novel asks important questions of the ethics of scientific research and of representations of disability. Often discomforting, and certainly surprising, the novel switches between Mendel’s modest experiments with plants, and Ben Lambert’s search for the gene that would help him eradicate his own dwarfism in future generations. Tying them together is their impatient search for new knowledge and their equally obsessive desire for women out of reach to both of them.
On its publication the novel was called ‘a furious, tender and wittily erudite book’ by the New Yorker, made the final 10 of the Booker Prize and was a finalist in the Los Angeles Times book prizes.
To explore its complex depiction of history, genetic science and disability BookTalk is delighted to host the following panel of speakers:
- Martin Willis is Professor of English at Cardiff University and a leading scholar of the interconnections between literature and science.
- Erin Pritchard is a human geographer of disability at Liverpool Hope University, and an expert on experiences of dwarfism in contemporary society and culture.
- Angus Clarke is Clinical Professor in the Institute of Cancer and Genetics at Cardiff University with expertise in neurodevelopmental disorders and genetic counselling.
The main event (7pm) will be preceded by a reception with tea, coffee and biscuits at 6.30pm in Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road, Cardiff CF24 4HQ.
About the Author
Simon Mawer is the author of ten novels and two works of non-fiction. He read a degree in Zoology at Brasenose College, Oxford, and taught biology for many years. His first novel, Chimera, was published in 1989, and won the McKitterick Prize for first novels. Mawer is widely recognised as one of Britain’s leading contemporary writers. His 2009 novel The Glass Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His most recent work is Tightrope, published by Little, Brown in 2015.