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theory of mind by sanjida o'connell
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Theory of Mind

theory of mind by sanjida o'connellShortlisted for the Betty Trask Award for Romantic Fiction

Part love story, part thriller, Theory of Mind is the compelling and disturbing story of a young woman’s attempt to discover what goes on inside the minds of chimpanzees, mankind’s nearest living relatives. Her relationship with the chimpanzees starts to affect her own relationships, in particular, that with her boyfriend, Corin, and the reader sees how similar the behaviour of the chimpanzees is to that of human characters in the novel – both reveal a horrifying lack of empathy.

Praise for Theory of Mind

‘An engaging study of empathy…a novel impossible to dislike.‘
The Sunday Times

‘Here is a first novel for people who like lots of ideas niggling in their fiction…There is nothing cuddly about the scenes in this zoo: in fact, grizzly behaviour across the species – including Homo sapiens – is the order of the day. By juxtaposing human and animal incidents so skilfully, O’Connell brings an unsettling dimension to her drama.‘
Maggie Traugott, The Independent on Sunday

‘Taut, complex and highly original.’

The Times

‘O’Connell’s descriptions of the internal politics of the chimp enclosure are fascinating and make you realise that these creatures organise themselves in the sophisticated way that humans do in playgrounds and workplaces everywhere….The novel is a good read and gives gripping insights into the animals’ modus operandi… if O’Connell is serving this up as a first published novel, she’ll probably be within sight of a Booker before she’s 30.‘
The Yorkshire Post

‘A startlingly original first novel. A convincing love story / thriller with a chilling climax.’
Good Book Guide

‘The novel is one of real distinction which does full justice to O’Connell’s skills in behavioural science.’
Barry Forsaw, New Scientist

‘Piercingly intelligent and very exciting. First novels by people that age tend not to have a great body of experience and depth. But this is really about something. It’s cutting-edge science looked at through relationships between characters.’
The Bookseller

‘O’Connell is a talent to watch.’
Books Magazine

‘Sandra is a PhD student who is determined to prove that chimpanzees are capable of empathy. She is aided in her task by a Byronic lover, a transvestite roboticist and an eight year old with a penchant for dissecting his playmates while they’re still alive. Throw in a scent of hash, a little bondage and a touch of child molestation and you’ll gather that this is not a book that will be given away free with bumper packs of PG Tips.’
Vic Allen, The Arts Scene