Cultivating A Fuji


Martin is awkward, shy, introverted to the extreme—the quintessential computer geek. But he’s beyond normal. That’s because he suffers from social anxiety disorder, unable to speak to people or even talk on the phone. “Computers were his close friends, almost extensions of himself.” His employer tolerates his “weirdness” because he’s so good at what he does. When a colleague’s accident puts Martin on the spot to represent their company to a client in Japan, he has no choice but to make the journey. His boss and coworkers feel the deal will end in disaster. But life in Japan is very different than in the U.K. …

This eloquently written tale captivates from the first page. The story is told from multiple points of view, yet every character jumps off the page. We get to know Martin first from other people’s impressions, then from inside his tortured mind. The reader becomes totally invested in Martin’s tale. A shockingly eye-opening view into those who suffer from social anxiety disorder, the author brings to light those who are “. . . imprisoned in their little fortresses with no chisels to cut holes in the walls and scramble out.” It reveals the dire consequences a child can suffer from neglect or abuse. A few soft spots . . . the rapid flashes back and forth in time can be a little disconcerting. Martin’s phobia of phones is also weakly based. And reader beware—don’t rely on any assumptions at how this tale will end. This is truly, however, a brilliantly crafted literary gem exploring a little-known disorder.

FS Brown