- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Graywolf Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781555977177
- ISBN-13: 978-1555977177
- ASIN: 1555977170
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 145 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Wake: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 2015
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“The Wake is a masterpiece. My top book of the year.”―Eleanor Catton, Winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize
“A book unlike any other, brilliant in its rarity and brutal, ugly truth. . . . Kingsnorth has brought forth a remarkable narrator through whom we can see (and smell and taste) the burnt fields and bodies, the skeletal trees and smoldering fires―a world sickly similar to so many lesser visions of destruction, but given fresh and horrifying weight here by a mad experiment in language that has become a raw and powerful masterpiece.”―NPR
“Like Tolkien’s and Martin’s books, The Wake presents the reader with an immersive experience. . . . What sharply distinguishes it is its disorienting use of high literary experiment and its insistence on uncertainty. . . . The Wake reminds us that we can’t find our way out of our crisis as easily as many think.”
“Kingsnorth does not simply tell history: He invites the reader to inhabit it. . . . At once invigorating and terrifying. History almost a thousand years old feels intense and immediate, as close as the blood in one’s veins and the memories one can’t escape.”―Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“Kingsnorth’s captivating first novel is thought provoking, multi-faceted and intriguingly rendered. . . . [The Wake] will satisfy motivated readers of history, ecology and the persistent pull of the old gods.”―Shelf Awareness
“Powerful eloquence, a brusque beauty, that moves and convinces. More than a mere novel, The Wake is really a medieval epic poem to an English way of life that would be erased forever.”―The Arts Fuse
“A work that is as disturbing as it is empathetic, as beautiful as it is riveting.”―EimearMcBride, New Statesman
“The Wake is an astonishing accomplishment. . . . At first the prospect seems unreadably off-putting; within twenty pages you get the hang of it; by thirty the suddenly fluent reader is immersed entirely in the mental and geographical contours of the era. But it works the other way too: we are seeing―and feeling and hearing―the living roots of Englishness.”―Geoff Dyer
“A resonant, eloquent ballad of English identity, pride and fierce independence. It is a thrilling story. Read it out loud. It is like nothing else.”―Mark Rylance
“Kingsnorth’s debut novel re-creates the mysterious joy that accompanies first learning how to read. Composed in a seductive Anglo-Saxon dialect, the narrative is disorienting yet familiar and brilliantly unreliable. Buccmaster’s astonishing voice will haunt readers long after they finish this bold book.”―Library Journal, starred review
“A feat of linguistic speculation.”―Publishers Weekly
“Kingsnorth’s use of an ever so slightly streamlined version of Old English to convey Buccmaster’s story, rich in ghosts and the old gods, is daring.”―Kirkus Reviews
“The message of this extraordinary novel is as honest and timely as it is discomforting. Being waecend to the grim fate of your society doesn’t mean you can do anything to prevent it happening.”―Times Literary Supplement
“Strange and extraordinary . . . this unusual novel has power. It lingers in the imagination.”―The Times (UK)
“Reading [The Wake] is to be immersed in the past and in a story in a way that I haven’t really felt since childhood. . . . The most glorious experience I’ve had with a book in years.”―The Guardian (UK)
“Earthy, rude, rough-hewn lyricism. . . . A war epic, psychological thriller, and brooding meditation on the past’s foreignness all in one.”―The Globe And Mail (UK)
About the Author
Paul Kingsnorth is a former journalist and deputy editor of "The Ecologist" magazine who has won several awards for his poetry and essays. He is also the author of two works of nonfiction. In 2009, he cofounded the Dark Mountain Project, an international network of writers, artists, and thinkers in search of new stories for troubled times. "The Wake" is his first novel.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-4 of 145 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
What is perhaps the most unique about this novel, and needs to be mentioned, is the language. Written in a version of Old English created by the author for layman readers, I didn't know what to expect. But what I think should be made clear is that Paul Kingsnorth didn't write this novel intending it to be a chore for the reader. He wrote it this way to reflect the world it takes place in, and he did so beautifully. The story is fascinatingly alien, and utterly relevant to a time we can only try and imagine. I appreciate Kingsnorth's reasoning in the note on the language:
"The way we speak is specific to our time and place. Our assumptions, our politics, our worldview, our attitudes - all are implicit in our words, and what we with them. To put 21st-century sentences into the mouths of eleventh century characters would be the equivalent of giving them iPads and cappuccinos: Just wrong."
And he's right. Ever get annoyed reading modern morals in a character of historical fiction? I bet Kingsnorth would too, but by taking the brilliant extra steps with language he's created something magical. Once you pick up on the "rules" of the language, reading it becomes second nature. It nourishes the story, never detracting from the tale. There is a partial glossary in the back, but I didn't use it once. Kingsnorth did all the hard work for us, and I found joy in understanding his new words through context.
Set during the Norman invasion of England, the story follows Buccmaster, and his somewhat misguided attempt to bring England back to what it used to be. Buccmaster is cocky, outspoken, and probably schizophrenic, but oddly riveting in an endearing sort of way. Except for the homicidal tendencies of course. But it's 1066, and his entire world is in turmoil. The journey is dark, but dreamy, and I was sad to see it end. Not that I was expecting otherwise, but I'll be honest, this one caught me off guard. One of the best historical fictions I've read yet, it brings exciting new breath to the genre.
I look forward to reading more of Paul Kingsnorth's work in the future. Highly recommended.
This proud declaration is repeated by the narrator throughout this thoroughly researched and beautifully written historical novel. After French invaders have destroyed villages throughout England, Buccmaster reminds nearly everybody he encounters that he is a free English tenant farmer of roughly 60 acres, was a member of the shire court of justice and now leads a small ragtag band of resistance fighters in the years following the Norman invasion. There is a helpful glossary, but frankly I tried not to use it, instead letting the words flow by (it helps to read aloud) and learning their meaning from their context. Pretty soon the barrier of author Paul Kingsnorth's "shadow language" falls and you're in another world.
The reason to read The Wake, however, is not to test your patience with pseudo-archaic linguistics (we have Klingon for that). It's the tale itself, the view it gives into the lives of simple English farmers who would lose everything, and the larger message it conveys that we humans do, in fact, tend to repeat history rather than learn from it. Since history is written by and for the victors, The Wake aims to give the conquered of 1066 their due. But Kingsnorth doesn't paint in black and white. Yes, there are the evil French invaders, raping, murdering and pillaging England under the cross of Rome. But as the novel progresses, it becomes clear Buccmaster may not be the most reliable narrator, and his defense of the old ways, in the service of his already anachronistic English gods of the forest, fen and sea, becomes its own brand of violent fanaticism. Indeed, the parallels to today's continued problem of state and tribal warfare in the name of religion make this novel surprisingly thought-provoking and relevant.