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Russell Hoban - book of condolence

Please use the comments facility below to post your messages of condolence, memoirs, reflections, thoughts or anything else related to our dear friend Russell Hoban, who passed away on 13 December 2011 aged 86. You don't have to be logged in to sign and you can do so anonymously.

If you're on Facebook you can also post to the wall of the official Russell Hoban page.


  1. Russ, thanks for the books and the good times. I'm hard pushed to say in words what your books meant to me, but it may have been those rare moments you get when you feel a human connection that goes beyond day to day living and yet is nothing more than sharing and appreciating the trivial and absurd (and beautiful) things in life. Does that make sense? Maybe not. It doesn't have to and I think that's something I learned from you also. Love to your wife and family.

  2. Russell was rare and beautiful writer. He spoke to a part of me that was snoozing and only half alert, unfed and wanting. His voice was as sustenance to that part - I can honestly say he changed my way of thinking and seeing and hearing in a profound way. Great men like Russell will continue to influence and keep us thinking long after they depart. Sincere condolences to his family. Gwenda (also Natasha and Brietta) - Sydney, Australia.

  3. Your books were a revelation. You taught me to trust being 'friends with your head.' I stood in Canterbury Cathedral, this masterpiece of the Middle Ages and while I thought of Becket and the history and all that meant, I mostly found myself thinking of Eusa and Punch and you. indelible gifts. Thank you.

  4. On Wednesday I went to the grocery store to buy milk. Filled my cart with things I had not intended to get and forgot the milk. This was because my mind was full of sadness and gratitude. Your books work in a deep way, and they stay in the mind.

  5. “It seems to me that the realest reality lives somewhere beyond the edge of human vision; I don’t know that it can ever be seen, but I’ll keep looking.” RUSSELL HOBAN, from the Preface to A Russell Hoban Omnibus, Indiana University Press.

    Bye, Russ. It won't be the same, but we'll keep looking on your behalf.

  6. Russell Hoban remains the only writer whose books I've read, and loved, from the age of four (the Frances series), to ten (The Mouse and His Child), to nineteen (Turtle Diary), to thirty-eight (Riddley Walker). Thank you, Mr. Hoban, for being such an important part of my intellectual and creative life, and all my condolences to your family and friends. I will miss you terribly.

  7. The most astonishing writer I have ever read. I think he DID see "beyond the edge of human vision" and was able to report back in a way that enabled the rest of us to glimpse that "realest reality". Thank you, I hope death will be a good career move for the human race needs to catch up with you. So much more to be said so much better than I can say it.....

  8. Thank you, Mr. Hoban, for Frances! My kids and I loved reading about her at bedtime. ("U is for underwear down in the dryer.")


    B and Z's mommy

  9. I come from The Warnings at Fork Stoan and read Riddley Walker many years after being given The Mouse and His Child by a far-sighted teacher. My oldest friend, who gave me that copy of RW, and I met Russ twice over the last year. He was a delight. We are so grateful to him for his amazing talent and wisdom. RIP.

  10. felix, qui potuit boni
    fontem uisere lucidum,
    felix, qui potuit grauis
    terrae soluere uincula.

    Happy, the one who can see
    the clear source of good,
    happy, the one who can release
    the chains of heavy earth.

    RH RIP

  11. "There are also places beyond bleakness and horror and despair, places where there is neither reason nor fear, where there is only the sea of whatever is, and the swimmer swimming in that sea. These places are beyond all known edges and off all charts, they must be found again and again and again and claimed and named by the mind that goes in fear and trembling, but goes to where its being takes it." Russell Hoban, thank you. RIP.

  12. Dedicated to the strangeness, now a part of it.
    "The best kind of genius" - endlessly generous.
    Thank you, Russ. See you in the black.

  13. Thank you for Frances. Much loved by my children when they were little. I'll never ever forget the Chompo bar. Much loved too by my dear late wife Maureen.

  14. My sincere thanks to a generous genius.
    I cannot describe my gratitude.

    Such depth and such a lightness of touch,
    such humour, and such wonderful characters.

    Thank you.


  15. 'You myt think a stoan is slow thats becaws you wont see it moving. Wont see it walking a roun. That dont mean its slow tho. There are the many cools of Addom which they are the party cools of stoan. Moving in ther millyings which is the girt dants of the every thing its the fastes thing there is it keaps the stilness going. Reason you wont see it move its so far a way in to the stoan'

    Thank you Russell for having the genius to break language down in order to release it highest power

  16. Thank you for the "London" books, for Riddley, Pilgermann and the rest. A regular in a pub where I worked introduced me to Riddley Walker and I never stopped loving your work. On my travels I have seen the strange creatures in the maze at the back of Schloss Belvedere in Vienna, visited the grave of Victor Noir in Paris, fallen in love with Albrecht Dürer and learnt to appreciate the random beauty of everyday life. All thanks to you. Rest in Peace, Mr Hoban, you did a great job.

  17. I look over my bookshelves of treasures every day, and in my heart I find you. Thanks Russ for showing me the way. And especially thanks for putting me on the bus safely, when I was twenty five.

  18. Reading "Riddley Walker" for the first time I was shattered and tearful by the time I reached Chapter 17 and then Orfing asks, 'Riddley dyou think theres hoap of any thing?' Riddley replies, 'Theres new earf on the barrens all the time.' Hoban's optimism and the way he has Riddley spread his vision through a Punch and Judy show are what made the novel cathartic for me and that is why I went on to introduce his unique voice to my students.

  19. Thanks Russell. If it was only Riddley Walker that would have been enough. Ditto The Mouse and his Child. Both books I have read many times.
    Next year I hope to fill in the gaps in my reading of your many books. I started by rereading Riddley and it is as wonderful as I remember.
    "Your tern now, my tern later" We're all a part of something we don't understand but you helped me see some of the wonder of it.

  20. "Out amongst the dots, beyond the last visible dog"
    It was a joy to meet you, a writer I have loved since I was 3 or 4 years old. Goodbye Russ

  21. I wish I had been able to meet you in life, but perhaps our paths will cross, somewhere in the living Underground where you may still find our bits of yellow paper.

    Give a 'hoo-hoo' to him for me, as I am sure he will not forget to stop for me at some point. I would offer him a banana, I think.

    Goodbye Russ...your words were, and are, the reason I write. You will be missed every day.

  22. “Being is not a steady state but an occulting one: we are all of us a succession of stillness blurring into motion on the wheel of action, and it is in those spaces of black between the pictures that we find the heart of mystery in which we are never allowed to rest.” ~ Frember

    Will miss you Russ.

  23. Love everything I've read by Russell Hoban - and that's now most of what was published. Unlike any other author I've ever seen. Words that weave magic and mystery with the everyday in a most beautiful way.

  24. You have changed my life in ways you don't even know. The way you write about everything in life moves me and steals the words I could never form on my own right out of my brain. The way you write about being a writer, and the experience of writing and creating, motivates me in a truly unique way.

    I had been reading your novels happily, knowing in the back of my mind that you would have a new one out soon. I always just assumed there would be more Hoban for me when I ran out, knowing you to be an addict who would never stop writing. Now that I know my collection is now complete, it breaks my heart. I will treasure your gift of words forever.

    Thank you for everything, but mainly for The Mouse and His Child, my all time favourite novel. The book has changed me and made me better -- so much better. Rest in peace.

    (Thank you to SA4QE for giving me some kind of outlet, some small chance to say goodbye...)

  25. Russ, what can I say? You not only knew the moment under the moment, but could convey its meaning to young as to old.

    'Consider this, said the darkness: any motion at any speed is a succession of stillnesses; any section through an action will show just such a plane of stillness as this dark window in which your seeking face is mirrored.'

    Your words, your spirit, and France's songs will pervade time and space.

    Thanks Brother!

    Finn Werner

  26. Farewell. May you rest in peace and write in glory.

  27. My thoughts and prayers go out to Russell and his family. I am so sorry to hear about your loss and I would like to offer you my condolences. I can understand your frustrations and pains in your heart with this world and why we should have hope because I used to feel the same way. But keep in mind that God is always there to keep us going and He will never leave us especially in times like this.