06 October, 2012
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (1980)
I only knew Hoban by his children's stories, but this novel is nothing of the sort and, well, there's no other way to say it - Riddley Walker is a masterpiece. Set in SE England, many generations after a nuclear apocalypse, a remnant population grasps at fragments of language, technology and legend as they try to reconstruct the 'clevver' times. Courageously written in a crude, bastardised English that presents an immediate barrier to the reader, it is this striking language that ultimately feeds the rich, mysterious and desperate atmosphere of the novel and lifts it into something truly remarkable. Russell Hoban died last year.