I remember taking down Riddley Walker from the bookshelf a few times and kind of glancing on the first page and only to put it back again. The reason was, of course, the somewhat difficult language, or rather strange spelling of a very simple English. If you want to know some general factos about Riddley Walker there are many web-pages far better than this one — Wikipedia as always, some general information, an annotation here, etc, etc.
When I search the net for information on Riddley Walker I see quite a few links to The Lord of the Flies, which surprises me (as I didn't think of that book at all while reading Riddley Walker). I did think of two books, viz. Trainspotting because of the phonetic spelling of the language, and A Catcher in the Rye becuase the story is told by a young man in a, to me, strinkingly similar fashion.
I think I would have appreciated Riddley Walker more if I had understood better what was going on, but I assume it's more poetic to tell the story from Riddley's point of view, and hence the strange spelling etc. To me, it wasn't even obvious there had been a nuclear world-war — it could have been an experiment in a particle accelerator (in preparation for a war) gone terribly wrong (and hence the "ring ditch aroung Cambry"). Yes, I also saw the many references to a war, but what is facts and what is myth in Riddley Walker?
Despite the higher-than-normal effort needed to read Riddley Walker it's worth it. However, I wonder if I wouldn't have appreciated it more had it been written in normal English . . .
Copyright © 2009 Peter Andrén