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January 2, 2012

"Riddley Walker"— A modern classic by Russell Hoban


I first read this novel within a year or two after it was originally published in 1980.

At first I had trouble dealing with the remarkable, sui generis language, grammar and vocabulary.

After about 50 pages something shifted in my brain and I began thinking in Riddley Walker-speak and the book came alive.

Below, the first page of the book, to give you a sense of what I'm talking about:

Screen Shot 2012-01-01 at 6.32.58 PM

To say it's an account of life in southeast England a few thousand years in the future after a nuclear apocalypse has destroyed civilization is to not even scratch the surface of the brilliance of this book.

Up top, the map (by Russell Hoban) from the beginning of the book, superimposed on the outlines of present day southeast England. The area is about 40 square miles. 

Look inside the book, including the opening six pages and the author's Afterword, here.

For those who'd like to learn more about this singular book's author, here's an excellent resource page.

If you'd like to explore the book in depth via annotations, notes on particular themes and subjects, and its rich and varied words and phrases, you'll find a treasure trove here.


Russell Hoban died on December 13, 2011, at the age of 86, but "Riddley Walker" is likely to be around long after you and I and everyone we know have vanished into dust.

January 2, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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I just couldn't do it. Kudos to you.

Posted by: Becs | Jan 2, 2012 8:36:58 PM

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