Simon & Schuster £8.99 (238pp) £8.54 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Henry's Demons, By Patrick and Henry Cockburn
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, and is currently judging the Aesthetica Magazine new writing prize.
Friday 13 January 2012
It must have been a courageous decision to embark on this dual, first-person account of schizophrenia, penned by Henry Cockburn, a 20-year-old sufferer, and Patrick Cockburn, his father (and foreign correspondent for The Independent) who bears witness.
Without its purity of purpose, it might have strayed into misery-memoir territory. As it stands, it is a startling account of mental illness from within and without.
Cockburn Senior provides the timeline, context and guilt-laden self-questioning, but it is Henry's simple eloquence that takes the reader into an unknown world, dangerous, horrifying, funny and wretched by turns. "Being locked up for so long really damages your spirits", he concludes. "You feel forgotten."
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