The Rosie Project is a semi-comedic novel written by Australian first-time novelist, Graeme Simsion. It was originally written as a movie treatment but became a novel when Simsion was asked to develop the characters further and he realized the plot and characters themselves were better suited to a novel format. The novel is semi-comedic but at the same time uses humor to deal with things that are very serious, such as mental illness and disorder, infidelity and the search for love. In fact, the author's way of using humor to deal with the issue of mental illness is mirrored by the main character, Don Tillman, who also narrates the story in a way that is self-deprecating and shows that he is able to laugh at himself and his behaviors.
Set in current-day Australia, the novel follows genius geneticist Don Tillman as he uses science to find his soulmate, a disastrous search that proves science cannot be used at all as a reference point for love. Don has many mental issues, including a history of depression and schizophrenia (suspected) in his youth, and rampant obsessive-compulsive disorder as an adult. He is also socially incompetent and decides for himself that his primary mental disease is an inability to fit in with society. His own disorders are reflected in the Aspergers' children that he works with as a favor to a friend. The fast-paced novel intertwines mental illness with psychological hang-ups, the latter chiefly exhibited by Rosie, the scientifically unsuitable but nonethless object of his affections, who is greatly affected by the uncertainty over her father's identity.
As well as being enormously entertaining and giving the reader an alternative view of those who suffer from any kind of mental disease, the novel also gives informative narration regarding genetics and the way in which they are largely misunderstood and misrepresented by the public at large - the issue of inherited eye color as a pre-requisite of paternity, for example, is one that is generally misinterpreted by those outside the genetics community.The author has a background in mathematical and scientific logical thinking and this is translated expertly onto the page using characters who are very likeable precisely because they are extremely flawed, but recognize their own flaws and address them with humor.
Although this is Simsion's first novel, it was extremely well-received worldwide, and he was touted in Australia as their next great literary export. The novel has been optioned for a movie and Simsion will also be adapting the novel for the big screen - ironically the place for which the concept of the story was first intended.