Literary Criticism and Significance
Deciding to write a novel from the perspective of an autistic child is daring. Deciding to write a first full-length novel from the perspective of an austic child writing about the neighbor's murdered poodle could have been a disaster. However, Mark Haddon handles the story deftly and tastefully, drawing on his experience as a teacher of people with special needs and previous efforts as a children's author. He navigates around and through areas—parental abuse, extra-marital affairs, running away from home—that could easily turn maudlin, trite, or insulting. Haddon gives Christopher's experiences a touch of warmth and poignancy that is often missing when authors step inside of the head of a character who can be so logical and concrete.
It is no wonder, then, that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has received nothing but positive praise from most of its readers and critics. The novel is a Whitbread Book of the Year, a New York Times Notable Book, and a national best seller in the United States.
The New York Times calls the book "'The Sound and the Fury' crossed with 'The Catcher in the Rye' and one of Oliver Sacks's real-life stories." Indeed, a reader will find a puzzle of a narrative to put together, much like in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. Christopher brings to mind a more sophisticated and articulate, albeit it somewhat chilling, Benjy. Christopher's detachment and inability to romanticize things may appeal also to fans of Holden from The Catcher in the Rye.