“There was a whispering, silence; and on the floor the snow melted to tears.”
Alan Garner’s Treacle Walker (4th Estate, HarperCollins 2021) was my final read of the 2022 Booker Prize longlist. Having read it, I’m a bit surprised this slim, little oddity of a novel made the shortlist; but it did, and Garner is the oldest author to make that list as he was 87 when shortlisted.
The novel is a fable, but it is not intended for children. Despite following a child, it is certainly intended for adults. But I think many adults would find it simply bizarre and unapproachable. I found it nonsensical and magical; in another life, I’d be mapping the literary and folklore allusions. Despite its brevity, which is part of what makes it palatable for me, I could read it twenty times and find hidden gems I missed the first 19.
I feel a bit disadvantaged having never read Garner before, as it appears this is a love letter to the fans who grew up on his words. Full of magic and peculiarity, Treacle Walker seems to kiss concepts of mortality and the afterlife square on the lips while reminding us we’re never too old.
Read this book.
Booker count: 13 of 13