Howard Engel



The man who forgot to read.

"In Engel's memoir, he relates the difficult journey from bookworm word-jockey to near-illiterate and back again; a successful mystery novelist in his native Canada, Engel awoke one morning to discover he'd lost the ability to read. Soon, he's informed that he suffered a stroke while asleep, and is afflicted with alexia sine agraphia, a condition in which he can still write, but can't read-even what he himself has written. While battling alexia in rehab, Engel juggles a young son and a girlfriend, and tries to figure out how to support himself and his family. After accepting that he will never again write adventures for his long-time lead, detective Benny Cooperman, he eventually finds himself forging a therapeutic novel in which Benny suffers from a brain injury similar to Engel's own. This intriguing account of personal tragedy, overcome with grace and humility, is an inspirational and instructive tale."

Publishers Weekly

"Engel uses his novelistic gifts to spin a tale that is equal parts heart-wrenching, inspiring, and self-deprecatingly funny."

Quill & Quire

"In The Man Who Forgot How to Read, Engel tells his story from the inside, with extraordinary insight, humour and intelligence. It is a story that is not only as fascinating as one of his own detective novels, but a testament to the resilience and creative adaptation of one man and his brain.”
Oliver Sacks

“It is witty, insightful, moving without being sentimental, and it keeps you turning the pages. I urge you to read it.”
Peter Robinson

“His memoir manages to transcend...a self-consciousness that is predicated on unreliable memories....[It avoids] jargon, hyperbole or self-glorification. It finds humour in the grim.”
The Globe and Mail

Howard Engel

HarperCollins Can/World Rights 2007
St. Martin’s US 2008
Rizzoli Italy 2008

The Man Who Forgot How To Read

One morning crime novelist Howard Engel picked up the newspaper from his front step and found that he couldn’t read it. The letters had mysteriously jumbled into something that looked to him like Cyrillic at one moment and Korean the next.

While he slept, Engel had experienced a stroke and was now suffering from a rare condition known as alexia sine agraphia, the inability to read. It was a devastating blow for a man whose entire life had been devoted to books and reading.

In this absorbing and uplifting memoir, Howard Engel chronicles his rehabilitation, how he slowly began to learn to read again and how he continued to write.

Since his stroke Howard Engel has written two more Benny Cooperman mysteries, Memory Book and East of Suez.

Listen to an interview with Howard Engel on NPR: