Sam Thompson



Shortlisted for the 2019 Encore Prize

‘A fresh and supple portrait of an era in flux … a perceptive study of the shifting ground between sanity and breakdown … expertly done … fertile and endlessly thought-provoking’ — Guardian

London in 1935 is a world of dingy pubs and bedsits; of strange inventions like psychoanalysis, feminism and modern art; of fascism, communism and looming war; of asylums in which the mentally ill are subjected to cruel treatments. Arthur Bourne, a junior doctor in London’s oldest mental hospital, is trying to save his closest friend, Louis Molyneux — an aspiring writer as brilliant as he is neurotic — from a breakdown. But in the attempt he will find his own moral certainties breaking down, and learns how easily even the distinction between sanity and madness becomes blurred.

Jott is a story about friendship, madness and modernism, inspired by a real episode in the early life of Samuel Beckett.

‘Essentially, Jott is a small story about three or four people, much of whose communication is conducted in silence. But, because what underlies it is nothing less than the labyrinthine workings of the human mind, what emerges is a complex, nuanced literary novel of extraordinary perception’ — Herald

‘Beckett aficionados will find much delight in the novel’s meta-fictions, but I admired it particularly for the themes of failure, psychoanalysis and psychiatric hospital care’ — Anne Godwin

‘A shrewd portrait of a particular kind of male friendship, simultaneously intense and incomplete’ — Mail on Sunday

‘It’s a rare treat to read a novel that pulls you into its world so quickly and deeply. The characters and their interrelationships are unfolded with mesmerizing precision’ — Chris Arthur

‘The flowing narrative and nuances of everyday life, paralleled with failure and triumph, is reminiscent of James Joyce’ — The Lady

‘Erudite, bawdy puns, parodies galore… wisdom, humour and ease’ — Irish Times


Jott is a novel set in and around a psychiatric hospital in the 1930s. It’s about the friendship between a young doctor and a modernist writer, and about how we define sanity and madness. The Guardian called it ‘endlessly thought-provoking’, and it was shortlisted for the 2019 Encore Prize.