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Black Swan Green

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  29,758 Ratings  ·  2,841 Reviews
From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new.

Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own rig
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Random House (first published April 11th 2006)
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I’m about to start gushing over this book now, so look out. I may end up stammering my way through this review, but if I do, just consider it a tribute to Jason Taylor.

So Black Swan Green. This is the first David Mitchell book I’ve read but I assure you, it will not be the last. I loved everything about this book. I RELATED to everything about this book. True, I have no idea what it’s like to be a 13 year old British boy growing up in the 80’s, yet there is something so universal about this char
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The kid in you
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Growing up is hard to do
Shelves: coming-of-age
'The world unmakes stuff faster than people can make it.'

Month by month our lives spiral forth into the future, with each moment shaping who we are and who we will become. It is no wonder that the pivotal years of adolescence, the stage of development classified by Erik Erikson as the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage, is fertile land for novels (if the nutrients of such land has been dried up from overuse of such topics is up for debate). Mitchell’s Black Swan Green examines this tumultuous per
Oct 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I think it was the summer between eighth and ninth grades that I had an absolutely hellish summer camp experience.* For whatever reason I got branded as the person to pick on and just about everything that I did was turned into a series of 'jokes' at my expense.

I haven't thought of this experience in quite sometime, it's sort of one of those things that I just don't dwell on, but it was one of those times that seriously fucked me up. Some of the taunting that Jason Taylor goes through in this b
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have a soft spot for coming of age books. So whenever I start a coming of age, I keep chanting, "please be good". I hate it when I don't like such story as I think they are beautiful, if written in right way, and perhaps one of the hardest kind to write. It's difficult to capture the emotions of an adolescent. It's such a tender age where kids are coming to terms to with life, when they try to fit in or hide away; when parents let them come out of their shadows and the brutal world is trying t ...more
Richard Derus
May 27, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pearl-ruled
Rating: 1.5* of five (p66)

Strike one: Teenaged protagonist.

Strike two, and ball one of strike three: Majgicqk. Or something like it.

Strike three: David Mitchell's writing reminds me of all the MFA program writing I've ever read.

I thought The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas were disorganized, and NO I did NOT misunderstand the fractured POV he used, I thought he did a poor job of executing it, and I found the preciosity of his phrasemaking in each of the three books I've either
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews

Just as I opened the cover of the book, I was hit by a barrage of praise for the book comments. May be I should have stopped right there. But I didn't. Hence this review.

When I watch a Hollywood movie or a TV show involving American schools, I see schoolkids overly concerned with social status and pecking order. There are these popular and cool kids, then there are nerds and other such stereotypes. They have to constantly worry about whose parties they get invited to, who they are seen talking t
Peter Boyle
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Mitchell is known for dazzling innovation and dizzying ambition. Intricately structured novels such as Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten are grand kaleidoscopes of intersecting voices and places. This book is a change of pace, however. It focuses on a single character in a single location. But despite its narrowed scope, it is no less powerful or captivating than his other works.

Jason Taylor is our hero, a thirteen-year-old boy in the sleepy middle-class town of Black Swan Green, Worcestershire
Jun 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who still remembers own 13 year-old self

I have failed to understand why this novel is sometimes disregarded even by Mitchell’s admirers. Because Mitchell accustomed us with his earlier works to something more bizarre and flamboyant ? Because Black Swan Green is so … ordinary ?

Adolescence is a real torture, especially for sensitive, smart but morbidly lacking of self-confidence one. And so Jason is. Thirteen-year-old from some jerkwater town, struggling with own deficiencies and fears. In some respects Jason has really rough times: h
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Το να πω ποσο λατρευω τον David Mitchell ,για αλλη μια φορα, θα καταντησει γραφικο.κανονικα δε θα εγραφα καν κριτικη για αυτο το βιβλιο.θα εβαζα τα 4.5 αστερια μου και θα καθαριζα.ωστοσο , αυτο το βιβλιο ηταν τοσο διαφορετικο απο τα υπολοιπα δικα του που εχω διαβασει και ταυτοχρονα το ιδιο υπεροχο, ωστε θεωρησα πως αξιζει να πω 2 πραγματα.αυτη λοιπον ειναι η ιστορια ενηλικιωσης του Τζεισον δωσμενη σαν παραμυθι.με τα αστεια περιστατικα, τις αγωνιες, τους ηρωες, τους δρακους, τον "δημιο" και την τ ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Δεν είχα ξαναδιαβάσει David Mitchell. Τα σχόλια όμως των "μιτσελικών" φιλενάδων μου εδω στο GR, με βάλανε σε πειρασμό. Οπότε, με το που το είδα στη βιβλιοθήκη, το άρπαξα χωρίς δεύτερη σκέψη.
Το βιβλίο αφηγείται ένα χρόνο από την ζωή του δεκατριάχρονου Τζέισον. Περιέχει σκηνες απο την καθημερινότητά του, τις δυσκολίες που περνάει λόγω της βραδυγλωσσίας του, τα συναισθήματα του, τη σχέση του με τους γονείς και την αδερφή του.
Αυτό που είναι εκπληκτικό με το Μαύρος κύκνος, ειναι οτι ο Μιτσελ, δεν π
Ian "Marvin" Graye
A Spelling Test

I kept this book on the shelf for a few years, before thinking I was ready to read it.

I didn't want to break the spell of the first two David Mitchell books that I had read (I didn't really like Cloud Atlas) and I was a bit apprehensive about the subject matter of a young teenage boy.

Ultimately, it was very much a book of two halves for me.

Teenage Mates Land

The first half captured male teenagerdom in the period in the 60's and 70's (when I grew up) and the 80's (when Jason grew
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Είναι χαρακτηριστικό των προικισμένων συγγραφέων, αυτών που ακολουθούν το δικό τους όραμα, η δουλειά τους να μην μπορεί να περιγραφεί τηλεγραφικά. Διαφορετικοί αναγνώστες μπορεί να αποτιμήσουν διαφορετικά τα έργα τους, τα οποία δεν κατατάσσονται εύκολα. Ωστόσο, με κάθε καινούρια ανάγνωση, θα αναφωνήσει κανείς πως, ναι, αυτή είναι άλλη μια χαρακτηριστική δουλειά του συγγραφέα. Ο Μίτσελ, πολυσχιδής, με ετερόκλητες αναφορές που διατρέχουν είδη όπως φαντασία, ε.φ., ιστορική λογοτεχνία, κλπ, με κάθε ...more
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: little british boys
Shelves: leetle-boys
I remember describing this book to a coworker:

Me: "It's about this little stuttering English kid who lives out in some little village during the Thatcher era, and sort of like, his coming of age kind of experiences?"

Coworker: "Oh God, that sounds awful."

Me: "No! I mean, I know it sounds awful the way I just explained it, but the book's actually really, really great!"

Two days later....

Me: (privately, to self) "Oh, God, this is awful."

I don't know what happened! This book started out really amazin
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This warm and big-hearted coming-of-age tale of a 13-year old boy, Jason Taylor, set in rural south central England in the early 80’s has plenty of charm. It’s sweet, but not sappy. Its magic lies in the capturing of innocence of that age at that time and place, from the electricity of a first kiss and sickness from a first cigarette to the pull of dancing to the Talking Heads and of jingoistic feelings inspired by Maggie Thatcher’s war for the Falkland Islands. The dark side of things in this s ...more
Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who was a kid in the 1980's
Shelves: read-in-2010
Black Swan Green surfed out of David Mitchell after the literary ocean had swept up Cloud Atlas and smashed it repeatedly against the shore marked "greatness", where it burst open and loads of critical acclaim and literary awards came gushing out. I read Cloud Atlas first and managed to protect myself against the gushing geyser of praise by having a suitably large umbrella. Sadly my umbrella is mostly made of a thin but impermeable layer of cynicism so I didn't have as many lovely things to say ...more
In every review of "Black Swan Green" I've read, the reviewer made sure to include some remark like "This isn't nearly as ambitious as 'Cloud Atlas'" or "I was expecting this to be more like 'Cloud Atlas' and, like, it totally wasn't." And that's really not fair to BSG because the two books are delightful and beautiful in their own ways for different reasons.

I had no idea what to expect from this book. I picked it up because I bloody love David Mitchell (and, yes, "Cloud Atlas," which I do adore
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Why is it that bad memories from adolescence never seem to fade away? I mean really, it's been a pretty long time since I was in junior high, yet there's certain times that those memories come flooding back to the point where it feels like all those events just happened yesterday. Being a shy, bookish type girl did not go over well in the junior high social scene, believe me. I remember one day getting off the bus after school, enduring more than the usual amount of name calling and laughing, wh ...more
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a children's book written for the adult mind. All of the horrors and torments of the regular youth, the fighting parents, the schoolyard bullies, the secrets, the shame, are written in such a way that memories of your own childhood will be conjured up, emotions fresh as if it were yesterday. Throughout the story, the main character has insights that are a mix of childhood imagination and innate wisdom, as he goes through the motions of the daily life and all of its consequences. It is a ...more
Lynne King
Oct 31, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a beautifully written book but I'm going to make a contradictory statement here - it is not for me.

Jason Taylor is a delightful boy, for most of the time that is, but my attention began to wander after a couple of chapters. The book did not fulfil my expectations. A quick skim through the book and then that was the end of that.

A shame really as it held such promise initially. Perhaps I will try and reread it at some later stage in my life.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: david-mitchell
I've been trying to find the words to write a proper review but looks like they're avoiding me. Maybe I'm out of form or it could be that Black Swan Green is a hard one to write about? Either way, I'm at a loss, so be warned, this is by no means a proper review.

The jury has come back in, ladies and gentlemen, and the verdict is clear. David Mitchell is brilliant. This is the fourth of his novels I've read so far and I can't help but wonder how the man does it. Black Swan Green may not be as maje
“If you show someone something you've written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’.”

Black Swan Green is David Mitchell's semi-autobiographical novel about a thirteen year old boy, Jason Taylor, growing up in Worcestershire England in the 1980s. This is a bildungsroman about navigating adolescence, which captures with aplomb how absurd and hypocritical and draining the whole experience is. But it's also a novel filled to the brim with hope and
Tanuj Solanki
1) A novel written from the perspective, or in the voice, of an adolescent boy is nothing new.

2) A novel concentrating on the development of character through formative experiences, some of which are representative of the time he or she lives in, is nothing new. It is called a Bildungsroman.

3) A novel that highlights, or hints at, the fragility of family, or the frailty of marriage, is nothing new.

Mitchell trods on these, and other, well-beaten paths, striving all the time to deliver us somethi
David Mitchell is well on his way to becoming one of my favourite contemporary writers. He has an amazing ability to ventriloquise, to channel characters through his writing. Here, in this mash-up of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he seems to be channeling his younger self, self-conscious British teenage speak warring with the compressed imagery of the developing poet:

The lake in the woods was epic. Tiny bubbles were trapped in the ice like in
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I can’t wait to read more by this guy. It’s clear how Mitchell has such devoted fans. The only word of advice I would give to anyone before reading this tremendous coming of age story is to choose not to be bothered about whether a 13-year-old boy could, in real life, be such a polished and insightful writer. Just enjoy the fact that Mitchell is. He’s ace, as young Jason might say!
Megan Baxter
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very different outing from the previous two David Mitchell books I've read. Instead of interconnected tales, spanning time and space and genre, it's a very straight-forward novel about growing up in England in the 1980s. It's really good at what it does, though. Even if it did keep popping Adrian Mole into my head.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you ca
There is little narrative drive, but Mitchell is pretty much my age and this is heavily autobiographical, so I enjoyed being transported to a fairly accurate version of a world I remember. I could imagine knowing someone like Jason, maybe even being him some of the time.

The narration by a stuttering 13 year old boy is slightly reminiscent of Mark Haddon's Curious Incident, but not as convincing or interesting.

It mentions specific 70s brands and products too deliberately - as if he's trying to
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2015
3.5 stars

Black Swan Green chronicles a year in the life of Jason Taylor. He lives in a small town, Black Swan Green, in Gloucestershire. He's thirteen. Life pretty much sucks. He has a stammer, one dorky friend, his parents are unhappy, and his older sister is moving away to college. But in all that, Jason sees life in a very different way than most people. He is a poet; a secret poet, since being a thirteen-year-old poet in 1980's England definitely wouldn't be ace. As we follow Jason through t
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, aere-perennius
Reading Mitchell for me is like experiencing J.D. Salinger again in high school or Don Delillo or Murakami in college. There are certain books you feel the author has almost hand-feed you emotionally and intellectually. This might only be objectively a 4.5 star book, but bugger objectivity, I loved it.
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my husband and anyone with a young teen
I think I am developing a serious author crush on David Mitchell. I am a 31 year old married woman and yet David (we're on a first name basis now because I've read two of his books, see) creates the 13 year old character of Jason Taylor in such a manner that Jason becomes EveryKid to me. I feel his adolescent pain, fictional construct though it may be, because I felt that kind of pain when I was a pre-teen. Once again, David brilliantly captures the spirit of his protagonist and the time through ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
David Mitchell has no idea of how an American sounds like.
Annoying, the way eccentric characters are twirled into the story and twirled right back out.

I guess those are my only two reservations about this book, a coming-of-age story that feels spot on. Books where I can see myself, that vibrate with shared experience or shadows of familiarity, those are the ones that can slice to the deepest quick. This isn't one of them, since I wasn't a smart boy who was 13 in 1982 in a small village in Englan
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Around the World ...: Discussion for Black Swan Green 7 71 Apr 24, 2015 05:52PM  
Altruistic Acts in BSG 2 48 May 16, 2013 12:46PM  
The film 'This is England' (Shane Meadows, 2006) makes a nice companion piece to this book. 10 87 Sep 08, 2012 01:54PM  
Altruistic Acts in BSG 1 35 Apr 30, 2012 06:50PM  
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David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. Afte ...more
More about David Mitchell...
“If you show someone something you've written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin, and say, ‘When you’re ready’.” 360 likes
“Trees're always a relief, after people.” 144 likes
More quotes…