Set in the three years after the Norman invasion of 1066, The Wake tells the story of Buccmaster of Holland, a man from the Lincolnshire Fens who, with a fractured band of guerilla fighters, takes up arms against the invaders. It is a post-apocalyptic story of the brutal shattering of lives, a tale of lost gods and haunted visions, narrated by a man bearing witness to the end of his world.
Written in what the author describes as ‘a shadow tongue’ – a version of Old English – The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo-Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction. Paul Kingsnorth explains:
‘I simply don’t get on with historical novels written in contemporary language. The way we speak is specific to our time and place. Our assumptions, our politics, our worldview, our attitudes – are all implicit in our words, and what we do with them . . . This novel is written in a tongue which no one has ever spoken, but which is intended to project a ghost image of the speech patterns of a long-dead land: a place at once alien and familiar. Another world, the foundation of our own’
Paul Kingsnorth is the author of two non-fiction books, One No, Many Yeses (2003) and the highly acclaimed Real England (2008), as well as a collection of poetry, Kidland (2011). A former journalist and deputy editor of The Ecologist magazine, he has won several awards for his poetry and essays. In 2009, he co-founded the Dark Mountain Project, an international network of writers, artists and thinkers in search of new stories for troubled times. Much of his writing can be found online at www.paulkingsnorth.net. The Wake is his first novel.