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The Wake
by Paul Kingsnorth


Overview -

"A work that is as disturbing as it is empathetic, as beautiful as it is riveting." Eimear McBride, "New Statesman"
""
In the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of 1066, William the Conqueror was uncompromising and brutal. English society was broken apart, its systems turned on their head.  Read more...


 
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More About The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
 
 
 
Overview

"A work that is as disturbing as it is empathetic, as beautiful as it is riveting." Eimear McBride, "New Statesman"
""
In the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of 1066, William the Conqueror was uncompromising and brutal. English society was broken apart, its systems turned on their head. What is little known is that a fractured network of guerrilla fighters took up arms against the French occupiers.
In "The Wake," a postapocalyptic novel set a thousand years in the past, Paul Kingsnorth brings this dire scenario back to us through the eyes of the unforgettable Buccmaster, a proud landowner bearing witness to the end of his world. Accompanied by a band of like-minded men, Buccmaster is determined to seek revenge on the invaders. But as the men travel across the scorched English landscape, Buccmaster becomes increasingly unhinged by the immensity of his loss, and their path forward becomes increasingly unclear.
Written in what the author describes as "a shadow tongue" a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable to the modern reader "The Wake" renders the inner life of an Anglo-Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction. To enter Buccmaster's world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past. A tale of lost gods and haunted visions, "The Wake" is both a sensational, gripping story and a major literary achievement."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781555977177
  • ISBN-10: 1555977170
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publish Date: September 2015
  • Page Count: 384
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Historical - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-07-06
  • Reviewer: Staff

Kingsnorth’s debut novel is a feat of linguistic speculation—it’s written entirely in a modernized version of Old English. When our hero observes that “I had cnawan yfel was cuman when I seen this fugol glidan ofer,” phonetics, patience, and the glossary help readers approximate this as “I had known evil was coming when I saw this bird gliding over.” Set in England around the Norman Conquest, the novel portrays this cultural upheaval through the eyes of Buccmaster, a Saxon farmer. After his sons are killed at the battle of Hastings, and the French burn his farm and murder his wife, Buccmaster and a small band of fighters take to the countryside with vague aims of fomenting rebellion. The rhythms of the prose, the phonetic clues, and Buccmaster’s emerging narrative voice cue the reader in after a few difficult pages, and many sections sail along. Others remain obtuse, and the fact that comprehension is always coming in and out of focus gives the reader a sense of searching for connection with something authentically old. However, the stylistic triumph glosses over some basic flaws: for most of the novel, Buccmaster is absent from key events, and the bulk of the plot is related to him by others, making for a dull middle of the novel. And the ostensible climax of the story—the kidnapping of a French bishop—comes only a few pages before the end, underscoring the uneven pacing. It’s a brilliant novelty, but not a classic. (Sept.)

 
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