Puckish, Postmodern Poet

by BK Munn
Children’s book author and novelist Russell Hoban died yesterday in London, according to several sources. He was 86.
An American who made his home in the UK, Hoban is best known for the series of Frances children’s books illustrated by Garth Williams and by Hoban’s ex-wife Lillian Hoban (1925-1998), including Bedtime for Frances, Bread and Jam for Frances, A Birthday for Frances, and more.
Hoban also wrote the well-received novel, The Mouse and his Child, later adapted into an animated film, and Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, a children’s book adapted into a television special by Jim Henson.
Hoban’s novels for adults, including Turtle Diary, The Bat Tattoo, and Pilgerman, enjoyed a cult-like status and popularity, especially the post-apocalyptic, linguistically-playful Riddley Walker, described by Anthony Burgess as “what literature is meant to be” and listed in Burgess’ 99 Novels, a survey of the best in post-War English-language fiction. In addition to novels, he also wrote poetry and for the theatre.