Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8 by Naoki Higashida review – why autism is misunderstood

The author of the bestselling The Reason I Jump movingly addresses a range of topics from the perspective of an outsider

Naoki Higashida is, by any measure, a phenomenally successful author. His first book, The Reason I Jump, written when he was just 13, entered the bestseller charts in Britain and the US. It has now been translated into 30 languages, making him, according to his co-translator, the novelist David Mitchell, the most widely translated living Japanese author after Haruki Murakami. He has published several other books in Japan, but Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 is the second to make its way into English.

Higashida is profoundly autistic. In person he is largely non-verbal, apart from a few stock phrases (“I’m home!” “Welcome back!”). He has a number of typically autistic traits: he jumps, he has meltdowns when plans go awry, he cups his ears and ...