Bloomsbury are to be congratulated on keeping in print one of Hoban's most interesting books: RIDDLEY WALKER. This edition, from 2012, has a good introduction by Will Self and glancing through the many enthusiastic reviews on Amazon, I can see that it's mainly the science fiction fans and fantasy buffs who love it. I read it, as I say, long ago and in 1986, I saw a production of it at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre with David Threlfall as Riddley which was completely brilliant. It seemed then to be the kind of book which could never be adapted, but I suspect that nowadays, people are more likely to have seen RIDDLEY WALKER as a play.
Here is a detail of the painting above. I thought at once of RIDDLEY WALKER because the novel is deeply connected with the story of St Eustace.
How to describe this book? How to persuade new readers to try it? It's a bit like THE ROAD, by Cormac McCarthy in that it's post -Apocalyptic. It's set in a world which is very different from ours but in which certain things from our world (Punch and Judy shows, most importantly) have acquired a significance we never gave them. It's set in what is recognisably Kent (there's even a map in the front of the novel) and the Cathedral and St Eustace and his legend are of great importance. It's a book that's very hard to describe and it's not one that everyone will like, but it's full of humour and some of the sayings like "TRUBBA NOT" (don't worry) have become part of my personal vocabulary. I also like PRIME MINCER for Prime Minister. It's a book which a certain kind of teenager would adore, and did adore when it first appeared. I've written this post in order to draw some attention to it so that hopefully a whole new audience can share Riddley's adventures. And if anyone else out there is a fan, I'd be very happy to read your opinion of this dazzling novel in the comments.