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Riddley Walker, Expanded Edition Paperback – September 22, 1998

3.9 out of 5 stars 149 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Russell Hoban's 'Riddley Walker' is that rare novel that can be loved by doomster geeks and literary readers alike. It's narrated in a language burnt to its rudiments by nuclear holocaust and revived into new forms by survivors in England who live as hunters, and who believe in a past that's half history, half myth." ―Michael Helm, Nuvo "Off the Shelf", Summer 2008

About the Author

Russell Hoban (1925-2011) is the author of numerous children’s books, including The Mouse and His Child. Other adult novels include The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, Kleinzeit, Turtle Diary, and Pilgermann.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Expanded Edition edition (September 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253212340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253212344
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on September 28, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Aside from The Lord of the Rings, Hoban's Riddley Walker is the most imaginative piece of fiction I've ever read. This is a novel to savor, to prolong, if possible, to pore over, to backtrack upon, to celebrate.
Do not be put off by the post-apocalyptic plot description. This is not your father's Neville Schute story. Nor is it Stephen King. This is a multi-layered, cosmic, end of days tale, that far transcends all other entries in "the genre." Hoban has been compared to Joyce, but don't be put off by that either, if you struggled through Finnegan's Wake, as most do. This is accessible. Highly so. Sure, you have to invest some effort and if you are the type of reader who has to have everything conveyed immediately to you, you will not enjoy this work. Hoban is essentially playing a game with his reader. If you enjoy riddles ("Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddles where ever theyve took me and walking them now on this paper the same."), Hoban will definitely keep you guessing. This is probably modern fiction's most "interactive" novel. The progressive revelations clue you in as you "walk" with Riddley through Inland (England). The path is so devious, yet so honest, at the same time, that you never want Riddley to seperate from you (a motif in the work) and you never want to lose his companionship.
Suffice it to say that I've been so obsessed over this book that I have joined a Hoban fan club and I can't wait to read more from this astounding author. If you can read updated Chaucer, you should have no difficulty grasping Riddley's vernacular, though there are some similarities to earlier English speech. Allow at least three chapters to get into the cadence and the inner logic of the "Riddley Speak.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Riddley Walker" is undeniably one of the most unique novels I have ever come across. All plotting aside, the bizarre (yet understandable) pidgin English that it is written in sets it apart from almost every other work of fiction I have come across. The only thing that comes close is the slang in "A Clockwork Orange", but even that mishmash is normal when compared to Hoban's English. That said, Hoban's creation is fairly logical, and is easily followed with a little bit of thought.
It would be easy to overlook the quality of the narrative of this novel because of the uniqueness of its presentation, but there is much more to "Riddley Walker" than that. It is the tale of a humanity reduced to Dark Age misery by a nuclear war, but what makes it different from other apocalyptic fiction is the historical remoteness of the holocaust. It happened so long ago, and was so total that its causes have descended into mythology. At the same time, technology has become confused with religion, and while mankind yearns for better days, he's not sure what they might be.
Hoban paints a fascinating portrait of humans struggling to come to grips with their place in the world. Particularly poignant is the image his characters have of dogs, which have at this point have gone almost completely feral, and yet still exhibit a faint longing for their old masters. The humans see in the dogs an emblem of their fall from grace, and in the dogs' ferocity, a tacit reminder of something lost, although, again, they aren't sure what that might be.
Perhaps the most intriguing element of the novel, however, is fragments of history that have been reassembled into a moral imperative for the power elite (such as they are).
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Format: Paperback
If you're going to be stranded forever on a desert island and could take one book, which would it be? This is my choice. I've read it at least once a year for the past 20 years. Each time I have found it no less challenging...and no less rewarding. Each time I laugh, I cry, I rejoice and despair, and I tell everyone around me who will listen that they must read /Riddley Walker/. Hoban has written half a dozen breathtaking novels about life and death, history and the future, free will and predestination, human nature and human culture, belief and practice--and I can't for the life of me understand why he isn't considered Earth's Author Laureate. He has also written dozens of deep-hearted children's books, including the Frances The Badger series (which were greatly loved in my adopted home state of Wisconsin). Perhaps some of the reviews below make it clear why this man is so underappreciated. In this age of prefab thinking and easily packaged messages, he's just plain too challenging for most people. No spoon feeding. No easy outs. /Riddley Walker/ is not a book for people accustomed to hearing what they think they want to hear. But for people who can do the work of meeting him halfway...jeez, the riches! Hoban grapples with big questions in this novel: --Are we destined, as a species, to destroy ourselves? --What is violence, and why do people do it? --What is religion, and where does it come from? --Who, or what, is god? --What can we look forward to, if we continue trying to blow ourselves up? --Is there a relationship between maturity/immaturity and violence? --What is the nature of human memory? --What the hell *is* it with men, anyway? There is no sniveling in this book.Read more ›
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