How It’s New York: This memorial was written by Kevin Holohan, an Irish writer based in New York. Books Editor Michelle Woods reviewed his The Brothers’ Lot and loved it. Also, Hoban was Jewish– so this is Jirish, which is so New York (even though Hoban lived in London).
How It’s Irish: This remembrance of Russell Hoban was originally published in Writing.Ie. And Holohan first came across Hoban’s books in Dublin.
I grew up on the Frances books, but never looked for any other works of the author. Thanks to Kevin for bringing this to our attention! Hoban’s children’s books, says Kevin:
behaves refreshingly like a real kid. She employs every possible delaying tactic when going to bed, gets jealous and nasty when her little sister has a birthday and exasperates her parents by restricting her diet to nothing but bread and jam. These are not didactic books that try to teach some received idea of model or moral behaviour. Instead they celebrate the wholeness of childhood just as Mr. Hoban’s books for adults also capture a magical oddness that always percolates just under the surface of perceived reality, something he called the “unwordable.” Even in the guise of more conventional Science Fiction like Fremder, his writing stretches the limits of genre.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1925, to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, Russell Hoban eventually settled for good in London in 1969. If there is an urban palette for his work it is London – sometimes in real identifiable physical details and sometimes just the feel of it, beautifully and evocatively insinuated in the background or in the corners. However, his most well known work takes place in a broken blasted world of harrowing imagination where an especially gloomy Hieronymus Bosch got to do the landscaping.
“Russell Hoban has put many things right, just right, in a book where at first sight all the words are wrong, and at second sight not a sentence is to be missed.”
I exist, said the mirror.
What about me? asked Kleinzeit.
Not my problem, said the mirror.