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Ingenious Pain

Ingenious Pain is the first novel by English author, Andrew Miller, published in 1997. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Italian Premio Grinzane Cavour prize for a foreign language novel. The novel was also listed on the New York Times "Notable Books of the Year" for 1997.


James Dyer is born without the ability to feel pain or pleasure. Set in the mid-18th century, the novel follows Dyer as he attempts to come to terms with this disability whilst working as a sideshow freak, then as a surgeon, until his eventual consignment to the Bethlem institute.


Critics praised Miller's evocative prose, thorough research and precise pacing.

Sarah Broadhurst in a review for Lovereading stated that the book was a "very skilful, densely written, complicated novel" and stated that it was "challenging and intelligent, it is a rewarding read." Publishers Weekly called the novel "inventive", "steeped with specific details" and "beautifully controlled". In a review for The Independent, Josie Barnard praised the tone of the novel, stating "Ambivalence is one of Miller's strengths. He enfolds the reader in the present tense and wields his writing style as coolly and precisely as a scalpel." and also praised his descriptions of the 18th century, stating that "Miller's evocation of the period is thorough. Many of his sentences speak paragraphs, his paragraph pages. Ingenious Pain is a book that gives visceral pleasure.", calling the novel as a whole "sensational". It was again reviewed by The Independent a year later by Lilian Pizzichini who opined that Millers "understanding of contemporary mores is thorough, the period detail precisely evoked, and his characters come alive with flashes of humour and compassion."

Patrick Mcgrath writing for the New York Times was particularly effusive in his praise, calling the novel "peculiar", "colorful" and "complicated"; an "extraordinary first novel". He also praises Millers research, writing that "he writes a fine strong prose thickly larded with the sights, sounds and smells of the period". He also praises the pacing of the novel; and draws comparison to John Fowles's novel The French Lieutenant's Woman; Graham Swift's Waterland; and Peter Ackroyd's "early flamboyant historical pastiches."


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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