PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 January, 2011, 12:00am

by Emma Donoghue
Pan MacMillan HK$169

After several books that were well-received, but rarely read, Emma Donoghue hit paydirt with Room, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker, earned strong reviews and even stronger sales. The inspiration is grisly to say the least: Donoghue has cited the Josef Fritzl case as the starting point for this beguiling but creepy tale of claustrophobia, twisted family relations and the scary world outside. The story is narrated in memorable style by five-year-old Jack, who lives with his Ma. Clearly something is up, but the details seep from Jack like blood from an old wound. Or rather jam from a doughnut, for Jack is a happy child, even if the events he relates are anything but. Alone in their small room, mother and child cook, clean, read, talk and at night shout for help. Yet Jack is unsure why: he is unaware that there is a world outside the room, let alone anyone there to hear them scream or save them. The source of their fear is the ghastly 'Old Nick'. Eventually, the pair seize the chance to escape, forcing Jack into a world he has no idea how to face. Room is haunting, moving and unlike anything else you will read.