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The Wake

A post-apocalyptic novel set in 1066 by Paul Kingsnorth

Review for The Wake

I was sent a copy of The Wake for my birthday by my brother in law and started reading it knowing absolutely nothing about it. I opened it, read the first couple of pages and thought- no it can't possibly be written entirely in this prose- its unreadable! I didn't know there was a glossary so i ploughed on, I even ventured to read a bit of the blurb on the back (i generally avoid this as publishers have an annoying tendency to reveal most of the first half of a book before you have read it) The book I see is written in a form of old English which became surprisingly easy to understand after 30 odd pages. It really gets into your head and the thoughts of the flawed main protagonist. The Wake reminded me of "Things fall apart" by China Achebe, Buccmaster and Okonkwo like literary twins literally wrestling with a world view at odds with a violently unsettled world. Anachronistic in one way but completely understandable. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone but the development on Buccmaster really takes you on a journey, leaving you with many questions. What is the value of rebellion? Why was i taught at school that the Norman conquest was progress? How do we truly define an ingenga in a country where everyone was an ingenga at some point? What the author does so brilliantly is leave you with some serious questions about identity and its value, be that cultural or individual- is the two are separable. He brings to life the era is a way that no other author has as far as I know (Although Brian Bates "Way of wyrd"is powerful- i need to re-read that) The Wake is so good i was sad that it ended, its a bloody serious book showing importantly that we are continually misled in history by overbearing and dominant established narratives. It creates its own narrative, which is all we can do to challenge received historical ideas. Its also a bloody funny book, especially in the main characters tendency to contradict himself...and the ending is brilliant. Five stars all the way!