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Riddley Walker [Paperback]

Russell Hoban
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

24 May 2012
'Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddels where ever theyve took me and walking them now on this paper the same. There aint that many sir prizes in life if you take noatis of every thing. Every time will have its happenings out and every place the same. Thats why I finely come to writing all this down. Thinking on what the idear of us myt be. Thinking on that thing whats in us lorn and loan and oansome.' Composed in an English which has never been spoken and laced with a storytelling tradition that predates the written word, RIDDLEY WALKER is the world waiting for us at the bitter end of the nuclear road. It is desolate, dangerous and harrowing, and a modern masterpiece.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (24 May 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1408832240
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408832240
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'The book has an evangelical effect on people ... Riddley is an absorbing character, Hoban's language has a fantastic, rough poetry and the post-apocalyptic world is chilling and convincing' (Rachel Seiffert, Observer)

'Russell Hoban has brought off an extraordinary feat of imagination and of style ... funny, terrible, haunting and unsettling, this book is a masterpiece' (Observer)

Book Description

The stunning and unique novel which is hailed as a modern classic

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unique and unforgettable 17 Mar 2004
This came to me highly recommended; praised by mainstream literary critics when it was first published and listed in David Pringle's 'Science Fiction: The Hundred Best Novels' (which, if you can get hold of a copy, is a superb overview of one hundred SF novels published between 1949 and 1984).
Riddley writes his own story - in his own language - of his life on the outskirts of Canterbury, far in the future and long after nuclear devastation.
It's a difficult, though rewarding read. Riddley writes in a variation of English which, though degenerate, has its own dark poetic beauty.
Hoban manages to effortlessly create myths based upon our contemporary lives, using words, place names and phrases which have become corrupted into synonyms such as 'gallack seas' (galaxies) and 'deacon termination' (decontamination).
A pagan religion and philosophy has evolved - centred around ceremonies of performance and revelation - which combines beliefs involving the Moon and animal spirits and is entwined with the conflated legends of 'St Eustace' and 'Eusa' (which we presume was the USA) who split the 'littl shynin man - the Addom' in two and brought darkness to the world.
As in Anthony Burgess' 'A Clockwork Orange' with which this book is inevitably compared, the dialect is at first daunting, but one easily settles into the style and realises that this novel could not have been written any other way. It's rich and poetic and full of hidden references to the past which have to be teased out of the text.
One could have forgiven Hoban for writing a tale demonstrating (as Walter M Miller did so ably in his similar novel, 'A Canticle for Leibowitz') that humans never learn, and that we are doomed as a species to repeat our mistakes.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry through osmosis 4 Aug 2004
It is indeed rare for a book to evoke such passion in its readers, and it is those books so utterly idiosyncratic and unique that achieve this feat. Like one of the other reviewers I am now on my fourth copy, having given away all previous copies to friends, sometimes with a little too much fervour perhaps. Riddley Walker has a habit of turning its readers into evangelists for the cause, a statement that would no doubt horrify Russell Hoban, a modest voice throughout. The principal voice is that of Riddley Walker, who guides us selflessly through post-apocalyptic Kent and its strange denizens, inhabitants of a world much like ours. Human foibles abound in a land of strange machinery, arcane ritual, desperate survival and the archaeology of the future. It would almost be best if this book had never been written for, like Homer and Beowulf, this is a verbal narrative, an epic tale of humanity's failure and success, an oral history. This book is designed to be listened to, consumed through aural means, so that your eyes can remain transfixed by the storyteller's lucid dreaming. One can imagine the oral Riddley Walker getting the Seamus Heaney treatment, as it speaks to us from the past and the future with the voice of a poet, whilst its suggestions and its lessons are all too applicable to our present. And while you're at it, read all Hoban's other novels too...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary. Make time for it 22 Jun 2012
By Chris Widgery VINE VOICE
This book is extraordinary. And hugely influential. You know the very middle bit of Cloud Atlas? A direct line to Riddley Walker. And Will Self's The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future. And lots of others (you will recognise similarities to The Road)

Hoban's tale is set in the far future, where humans scratch out an existence, thousands of years after a nuclear apocalypse has destroyed humanity and civilisation. Knowledge has been lost, history has ended and what remains is a vague memory of better times. Of boats in the sky and pictures on the wind and great shining wheels.

Riddley lives in Kent and the book is his tale. Written in his hand, and in his language. And it's here where things get really difficult. Because the English Riddley talks, and writes in, is not the English that you and I know. It is an English that has been nearly forgotten and then remembered, but at the same time being re-evolved. The spelling is not what you know, and you have to work hard, often really hard, to understand it. You will, inevitably, have to read parts out to understand what they mean.

This put me off for about six months after someone bought me this book. But don't let it put you off. Because what the language does is drag you completely and utterly into Riddley's world. it slows you down and you read at the speed he thinks. Which is a lot slower than you or I. So it is a slow, hard read. But an indescribably rewarding one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique book 18 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This is one of the most original and unique books I have read. I've read it three times. A 12-year old boy called Riddley Walker describes the events in his life and the world in which he lives: a savage post-apocalypse England, thousands of years from now. Although this isn't the first story set in a post nuclear future, the invented language makes the premise seem fresh and new. I like the map Riddley drew at the beginning, with the vaguely familiar names of ruined towns. It's the first sign that the reader is in for a strange, dislocating experience. Trying to work out what the narrator is talking about is like solving a riddle at first (very riddley), but it gets easier as you go along. In the British film "Threads" the latter part of the story shows children who grew up after the nuclear holocaust speaking in a broken and degraded English. I've got a feeling it might have been influenced by this book. Perhaps other readers who have seen the film agree? When I cleaned out my room one time I discovered another of Russell Hoban's books that I forgot we had: "What Happened When Jack and Daisy Tried To Fool the Tooth Fairies". We had had the book for several years but I only heard of "Riddley Walker" two years ago when I came across the title in a science fiction encyclopaedia. It just goes to show what a versatile writer Hoban is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ..if you like riddles!
This book is genius! Straight into my top 10 (maybe 3) reads of all time! Absolutely loved it and haven't stopped thinking and talking about it since. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jol legend
5.0 out of 5 stars haunting
Like many worthwhile novels you will probably need to accept the smaller predictions and practices but once disbelief is suspended there is brilliant characterisation and a good... Read more
Published 2 months ago by B. Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak Future for Humanity.
Although the future dialect takes a while to grasp, this bleak vision of post nuclear holocaust Kent is engaging and well written. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mudway
5.0 out of 5 stars Riddley Walker on Kindle
Written in mutated English syntax (Appropriate considering the story line), nonetheless the story is believable, and makes the point we never learn, no matter how great the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by L Wallen
5.0 out of 5 stars Riddley Walker
I read this book years ago in my twenties. Looking back, there are very few books that hit me between the eyes so forcefully. Read more
Published 5 months ago by A. MCFADYEN
5.0 out of 5 stars small epic
probably one of the ten important works of fiction of the 20th c. along with Slaughterhouse 5. Riddley is the true successor to Huck Finn. Hoban was a genius.
Published 5 months ago by zimmerman
5.0 out of 5 stars head scratchingly good
it will baffle, amaze and confuse by turns, but if you stick with it and speak the more confusing parts of the language aloud you will enjoy and remember it for a good while.
Published 7 months ago by Daniel
5.0 out of 5 stars A very Special Book
I bought this on the recommendation of a friend, and he was so right. The authors playful love of words and his imaginative vision of a post-apocalyptic world are engrossing, the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars I'd give 3 and 1/2 if I could
Firstly, there are some laugh out loud parts of this book, and although the language is unusual, its no harder to pick up than the writing in 'A Clockwork Orange'. Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. Doyle
2.0 out of 5 stars Arcane arcana
Hmm. They say a Kindle can hold between two and three thousand books; more than I can expect to get through in the years that are probably remaining to me. i.e. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Philip Minchom
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