New dad and author Adam Mansbach’s real-life experiences made him realise that parenting wasn’t as rosy as it was made out to be. While struggling to put his two-year-old daughter to sleep, the American writer decided to write a kid’s book for adults, a move that was instigated by a Facebook post. “It came about one night after I put my daughter, Vivien, to bed — a two-hour process, at the time. I jokingly posted on Facebook look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go The F**k To Sleep, and in doing so, I realised I knew exactly how to write such a book,” he recalls.
The bestseller in the US that topped Amazon recently and has been published in 35 languages and was released in India by Roli books this week. And while Mansbach confesses he wrote it “for fun, to amuse myself and see if he could pull it off,” he isn’t bothered by some of the criticism the book has received, that calls his writing deranged and his verse the rage of a frustrated father. He says, “The book isn’t for kids at all, as we’ve made abundantly clear. Though we are working on a child-friendly version called Seriously, Just Go To Sleep.”
With nursery rhyme-like verse, every stanza ending with the F-word, the picture book with childish illustrations by Ricardo Cortés leaves many amused and startled at the same time. “It’s an honest book, one that gives parents the permission to admit and laugh about one of the central frustrations of something we all fundamentally love,” feels Mansbach.
Whether his spoof of a kid’s book reflects the frustrations of parenting or is meant for adults with a sense of humour, the book has managed to catch the attention of many starry parents. Actor Samuel L Jackson was so taken by it that he decided to record an audio-version himself.
“Sam was a fan of the book, and when he was approached by audible.com, he jumped at it and did a great job. I think it’s possibly his best work since Pulp Fiction,” jokes Mansbach. Ask him if Vivien sleeps fine now, and he replies, “She’s three. So better, yes, but fine would be pushing it.”