Shtum by Jem Lester





silent; non-communicative.

“he kept shtum about the fact that he was sent down for fraud”


be or become quiet and non-communicative.

“you start to say something and then just when it’s getting interesting you shtum up

This week I travelled interstate for work. It was a 6:00am domestic flight bereft of the trimmings of my usual personal travel. For me an airport usually signifies the anticipation of new lands far and wide… with a teensy bit of shopping on the side. Not so my most recent voyage. But there is one ritual I managed to maintain, and that is my habitual visit to the airport bookshop. I love a bookshop at the best of times; the boundless titles, the endless possibility. An airport bookstore in particular provides a special nuance due to the audience – the transient in search of a tale to while away long plane rides and extended beach stays. The airport bookstore must cater to a selective and yet broad clientele.

On this particular journey, I happened upon Shtum, a title I had not seen in any other store to date nor read about in any review. It stayed in the back of my mind and when I saw the cover again on my return journey home, I knew it couldn’t go unread. THANK YOU airport bookshop. Shtum is exquisite Read in one sitting on a rainy (torrential) winter’s day, Shtum pulled at my heart in all the right places. Ostensibly the story of three generations of men living under the one roof, the circumstances that brought them together at a particular moment in time is truly heart-wrenching. Shtum’s success is the marriage of the feckless, the futile and the forthright in a combination that is incredibly powerful.

I cannot keep shtum about it. Do yourself a favour. Rainy day optional.