A Box Of Birds by Charles Fernyhough

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A thought-provoking novel that wrestles with the fundamentals of human nature.
-Financial Times

Synopsis

Neuroscientist Dr Yvonne Churcher has problems in the world beyond her lab. One of her students, James, a dangerously attractive anti-science protestor, has set out to challenge her entire philosophy about how the brain works. His friend, Gareth, a brilliant, unstable computer genius, is obsessed with the biochemical basis of memory. When he tries to persuade Yvonne to get involved with a plan to stimulate memory artificially, it sets off a chain of events involving unscrupulous biotech companies, stolen brain-mapping data, and a strange brand of eco-terrorism. A Box of Birds is both a pacy literary thriller set in a near-future world of experimental brain research, and a compelling love story between a neuroscientist and an animal rights campaigner. It dramatizes the clash between two of the predominant philosophical positions of our age: the materialist view that science has all the answers and that "we" are nothing more than bundles of nerves and chemical reactions, and the Freud-inspired position that underpins the culture of psychotherapy: that the stories we tell about ourselves and our pasts have the capacity to change our future. Does neuroscience really change our understanding of who we are? Or are we all at the mercy of our own need to make coherent stories?

 

About Charles Fernyhough

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Charles Fernyhough is an award-winning writer and psychologist. His most recent book, A Thousand Days of Wonder: A Scientist's Chronicle of His Daughter's Developing Mind, was a Parade magazine pick of the week and has been translated into seven languages. The author of two novels, The Auctioneer and A Box of Birds, Fernyhough has written for the Guardian, Financial Times, and Sunday Telegraph, contributes to NPR's Radiolab, blogs for Psychology Today, and is a Reader in Psychology at Durham University, UK. Visit his website at www.charlesfernyhough.com.
 
Published August 30, 2012 by Random House UK. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Box Of Birds
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Steven Poole on May 10 2013

The story is set in a slightly underimagined near future, which makes the intermittent appearance of SF details ("a DNA nano processor laptop") a bit distracting.

Read Full Review of A Box Of Birds | See more reviews from Guardian

Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Maria Crawford on May 24 2013

A thought-provoking novel that wrestles with the fundamentals of human nature.

Read Full Review of A Box Of Birds | See more reviews from Financial Times

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