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Russel Hoban (Russel Conwell Hoban) Biography

(1925– ), (Russel Conwell Hoban), The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, Kleinzeit

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Hersey Biography to Honest Man's Revenge

American novelist and children's writer, born in Pennsylvania; he settled in London in 1969. Trained as an illustrator, he worked in television and advertising before becoming a full-time writer of great originality. His first novel for adults, The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973), introduces the themes and symbols common to all his fiction, yet every one of his novels is unique in subject and approach. Jachin-Boaz and Boaz-Jachin are a father and son who rediscover one another with the aid of a comically incongruous mythic beast. Kleinzeit (1974), self-mockingly surreal, concerns an advertising copywriter sent to hospital with a slipped hypoteneuse and other mathematical complications; what really ails him (and all his companions in Ward A4) is the urge to write. Turtle Diary (1975) is, by contrast, a conventional novel with an eccentric plot about two sea turtles rescued from London Zoo. His fourth novel required a yet more radical shift. Set 2,000 years after a nuclear holocaust in what remains of Kent, Riddley Walker (1980) is narrated in truncated and wholly reinvented English by the young riddler, or priest-figure, of a primitive people puzzling over the relics of our civilization. Riddley Walker is so far the ultimate expression of Hoban's fascination with word-play and with language as both a limiting and a liberating factor in human thought. In Pilgermann (1983), which draws on the history of the Crusades for a story of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, he explores the human craving for pattern and religion. All these preoccupations are evident in his novel The Medusa Frequency (1987), the story of a writer searching for inspiration and plagued by visions of Orpheus, Eurydice, and the Medusa. Hoban has become a prolific writer of children's fiction. The Moment Under the Moment (1992) is a collection of stories, essays, and a libretto. Fremden (1996) is a space opera.

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