Novels Featuring Protagonists Or Main Characters Who Suffer From Alzheimer's Disease

Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2007) - This is considered by some as the gold standard when it comes to fiction writing about Alzheimer's Disease. Lisa Genova self-published this book with minimal fanfare in 2007. It caught on among some readers and critics and it was eventually acquired and republished by Simon and Schuster in 2009. It became a best seller and stayed on the New York Times best seller list for over 40 weeks. More importantly, response from people who actually suffer from Alzheimer's Disease were mostly positive. This wasn't surprising at all because the author knew what she was writing about. After all, she has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard university. She is a legit neuroscientist.

Still Alice tells the story of Alice Howland, a 50-year-old professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. The illness takes hold of her swiftly and completely changes her relationship with her husband, children, and peers. The novel was a huge success. It got translated into more than 20 languages. The novel was also adapted into a major motion picture starring Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. Moore won an Oscar for her performance in the film as Alice. Lisa Genova went on to write a few more novels (Left Neglected, Love Anthony, Every Note Played, Inside the O'Briens) with protagonists suffering from neurological disorders.

The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (2008) - Written entirely from the viewpoint of Jake, a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, The Wilderness is a deep exploration of what happens to a person when diagnosed with the illness. Jake's predicament is made worse by the fact that he has gone through a lot prior to the diagnosis. He has lost her wife and his son is behind bars.

How difficult is it for someone like Jake to hold on to his relationships, memories, and personal identity? How much of these will he lose as the illness progresses? As you read through the novel, you will realize that Jake is an unreliable narrator. How much of the things he were saying were true and accurate? The Wilderness won the Betty Trask Prize and was nominated for the Orange Prize and Man Booker Prize.

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey (2014) - In this psychological mystery, an elderly woman who is quickly descending into dementia embarks on a quest to look for a friend who she believes has disappeared. She is losing her memory and her grip on reality. She knows that her friend is in terrible danger and she's on race against the clock to find and save her before she completely loses her memory. Unfortunately, no one is willing to help her. Nobody believes her. Not the police. Not her caretakers. Not her own daughter. Not even the son of her missing friend. Her desperate search for the truth takes her to long-forgotten areas in her memory that she never thought she'd revisit again.

Elizabeth is Missing has won the Costa Book Award for First Novel and the Betty Trask Award. The book was also adapted into a television film for BBC One. It starred Glenda Jackson as Maud, the main protagonist in the book.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (2011) - In this mystery thriller, a retired orthopedic surgeon (Dr. Jennifer White) suffering from dementia is accused of murdering her best friend (Amanda). When the body of the victim was found with four of her fingers surgically removed, Dr. White was immediately painted as the prime suspect. And because of her dementia, Dr. White doesn't really know if she committed the crime or not. As the investigation advances, a chilling question becomes apparent: is Dr. White's disintegrating memory helping her hide the truth or preventing her from revealing it?