The Wake (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Kingsnorth delivers an astonishing, visceral howl of rage and grief from an Anglo-Saxon landowner who sees his family, his home, his livelihood, and his entire world destroyed in the Norman Conquest. The very language is a protest, an arcane but powerful evocation of Old English. The Wake disturbs in addressing a deep forgotten cultural wound that's yet to heal. –Reva

— From Reva's Picks


"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.

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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781555977177
ISBN-10: 1555977170
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Pages: 384
Language: English