Reviews

  • "Jesus - what a book. Chilling, riveting, extraordinary, wonderful - I’m trying to think of the words to describe this book but none of them do it justice."

    Roddy Doyle
  • "A distinguished and desolating memoir. I have never read such a succinct and unsparing chronicle of the destruction of body and spirit that can be brought about by the violation of a child. It’s the equivalent of a letter from a gulag, except that the events take place in Sussex in the 1980s … The saving grace is the writer’s pleasure in scholarship, and his undaunted eye for the beauty of the world."

    Hilary Mantel
  • "I'd nominate Paper Cuts by Stephen Bernard [as a book of the year]. It's a literary memoir which is unforgettably fleet, stinging and painful."

    Hermione Eyre, Evening Standard **Books of the Year**
  • "A beautifully written account - both brilliant and appalling - of the psychological consequences of sexual abuse of the author when he was a vulnerable boy by a priest... Rarely have I felt so angry."

    Henry Marsh
  • "It is an extraordinary book in its unblinking truthfulness, even more so in its refusal to deny the complexities and ambiguity that follow such childhood trauma. This vivisection is just what we need in the discussion and literature of mental illness and its sources."

    Hannah Jane Parkinson, Observer
  • "The form in which Bernard presents his thoughts, his memories, his perceptions, is liturgical. Moments emerge, dissolve, shape themselves round each other, in rippling patterns of the appalling and the ordinary… The prose is clear and plain, vulnerable in its earnestness, confident in its craft. ‘I am glad that I wrote it, that it is written,’ he writes at the end, and I’m glad too. It’s both a testament of great documentary usefulness and a really beautiful piece of art."

    Jenny Turner, Guardian
  • "Terrifying and eloquent ... an extraordinary personal account of the psychological consequences of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest."

    Henry Marsh, New Statesman, Books of the Year
  • "Sometimes all we can do in the face of evil is name it; and the naming is the only victory we get over it. But it takes courage, immense courage, to be the one who calls out the name. That is what makes this book an act of pure heroism. I can only hope the writing of it was its own reward for the brave man who wrote it."

    Richard Holloway
  • "A day in the mind of a man who was brought to the edge of madness by the sexual abuse inflicted on him when he was a child. Paper Cuts is harrowing, but never gratuitously so, and in between the vivid and looping confrontations with past trauma, we follow Bernard's joyous, precarious and often intellectually brilliant thought processes, alongside his current preoccupations as an Oxford University academic."

    Julia Blackburn
  • "Paper Cuts did what only the very, very best art can do: it altered me. I read it in a few unforgettable hours, wishing it would end, wishing it would go on. I salute Stephen Bernard with all my heart. His elegant sentences lure you into a frankly nightmarish life, but one that has filled me, astonishingly, with hope."

    Lara Pawson