By KATE LEAVER
Bill Gates wants you to read The Rosie Project immediately. Because it’s utterly brilliant. Because it’s profound and hilarious. Because it’s close to fiction perfection and every household needs a copy.
And that’s great Bill, but frankly, you’re a bit late to the party.
I’ve loved The Rosie Project since the moment I read the first page – about a year ago. Author Graeme Simsion (who was technically born in New Zealand, but we claim him as Australian all the time because he’s so good) has been a hero of mine ever since… Which is why it was a particular delight to interview him this week.
We’ll get to that in just a moment.
First, here’s what Bill Gates had to say about The Rosie Project:
“Melinda picked up this novel earlier this year, and she loved it so much that she kept stopping to read passages out loud to me. I started it myself at 11 p.m. one Saturday and stayed up with it until 3 the next morning.
Anyone who occasionally gets overly logical will identify with the hero, a genetics professor with Asperger’s Syndrome who goes looking for a wife. (Melinda thought I would appreciate the parts where he’s a little too obsessed with optimizing his schedule. She was right.)
It’s an extraordinarily clever, funny, and moving book about being comfortable with who you are and what you’re good at. I’m sending copies to several friends and hope to re-read it later this year. This is one of the most profound novels I’ve read in a long time.”
And now, without further ado, let’s hear from Graeme Simsion, author of the now Bill-Gates-endorsed book, The Rosie Project. And upcoming sequel, The Rosie Effect.
GS: It’s always great to have recommendations from respected high-profile people: Mr Gates’s went straight on to the back cover of The Rosie Effect. But I’m particularly pleased with this one, because it may reach three groups who don’t traditionally read their share of fiction: men, professionals outside the arts and executives. It’s interesting that Bill Gates read The Rosie Project because his wife recommended it – that’s often the way that men come to it. Once they’ve started it, they generally like it.
But they shouldn’t need a female broker to bring them to fiction – or even to fiction that’s about relationships.
MM: Do you think there’s a chance Bill loved it because he identifies with protagonist, Prof. Don Tillman?
GS: I hope so. I want every reader to identify with Don to some extent. We’ve all made social mistakes, obsessed over trying to work out what someone else was thinking and wanted to fit in. And most of us have despaired at some time of finding a partner.
Yes, some people are closer to Don than others. I worked for many years in information technology, and did some time in academe, I’ve met many people who shared traits with Don. In fact that’s where the idea of Don came from.
Many readers know someone who is very much like Don, and they’re probably too busy making that connection to relate directly themselves. I hope they still get a sense of how that person thinks and feels. On average, my female readers are more likely to say ‘hilarious’ (just like my husband / father / brother / co-worker) and my male readers ‘profound’ (just like me)!
I didn’t research Asperger’s but I’m assured by those in the autism community that Don is one of them. Their response has been overwhelmingly positive.