October 16, 2004

Riddley Walker

Author: Russell Hoban | First published 1980 | Amazon

Riddley Walker is like no other book I've ever read. It has some strands in common with A Canticle for Leibowitz, with its ruined world struggling to interpret remnants and the importance of religion, but it's far more hallucinatory. The prose is all in dialect, which often needs to be sounded out to establish its meaning - and there are often many meanings in a given set of words.

I've been on a post-apocalyptic binge lately (Canticle, The Handmaid's Tale, currently reading The Postman), but this one does an excellent job of conveying the confusion left after a disaster and the explanations people will resort to in order to make things seem sensible. The plot has a heavy dose of magical realism to it, but in the circumstances described, magical realism seems pretty realistic.

Posted by simonstl at October 16, 2004 09:58 PM