‘Playful, moving and wholly remarkable’ Guardian
‘A small miracle’ New Statesman
‘Mastery of craft, resonance and deep feeling on every page’ Telegraph
An introspective young boy, Joseph Coppock squints at the world with his lazy eye. Living alone in an old house, he reads comics, collects birds’ eggs and plays with his marbles. When, one day, a rag-and-bone man called Treacle Walker appears, exchanging an empty jar of a cure-all medicine and a donkey stone for a pair of Joseph's pyjamas and a lamb's shoulder blade, a mysterious friendship develops between them.
A fusion of myth, magic and the stories we make for ourselves, Treacle Walker is an extraordinary novel from one of our greatest living writers.
‘All the exuberance and eccentricity, all the deep thought and resounding mythology of [Garner’s] best work’ Observer
‘Spare and allusive… luminous and understated’ Rowan Williams, New Statesman
‘Cryptic, evocative, sparely told and deceptively simple’ Carolyne Larrington, TLS
A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR • A TLS BOOK OF THE YEAR • A GUARDIAN BEST FICTION BOOK OF 2021
‘Treacle Walker is a small miracle’ New Statesman Best Books of 2021
‘Remarkable … there’s mastery of craft, resonance and deep feeling on every one of these 150 pages.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Spare and allusive … luminous and understated. It’s about seeing and healing; any more by way of summary would be useless’ Rowan Williams, New Statesman
‘It’s a strange, austere, uncompromising book, leagues ahead of anything else I’ve read this year’ Peter Thonemann, TLS
‘This seemingly brief tale is a hypnotic wonder, blurring the boundaries of time and spirit… A glorious wonder in its own right. Here is real magic between hard covers’ Erica Wagner, New Statesmen
‘Treacle Walker is a circular narrative, made of smaller interlocking circles, with actions and whole paragraphs repeating: in its end is its beginning. This late fiction also works the seam opened up in Garner’s very first novel, inspired by the story handed down to his grandfather about enchanted sleepers under Alderley Edge … Playful, moving and wholly remarkable work … There’s a life’s work inside this little book’ Guardian
‘Sparse yet masterful… This is a mesmerising folktale where every word counts’ Literary Review
‘Garner has always suggested that there is essentially just one story, and this novel… contains all the exuberance and eccentricity, all the deep thought and resounding mythology of his best work. At the end of his life, Philip Roth wrote the extraordinary Nemesis, a book that felt like a conversation between the author and his younger self, an attempt to express in a single novel the concerns of a lifetime. Treacle Walker does something similar, cramming [in] … more ideas and imagination than most authors manage in their whole careers’ Observer
Deep in the Landscape of Dreams
Joe, who has been poorly, wears an eye-patch because his eyes don’t match. Out of his good eye, he sees words, comic-book escapades and water bogles invisible to his other eye. The rag-and-bone man Treacle Walker is his initiator into a world of imagination and dreams - a world apparently without parents or school - a world through multiple looking-glasses, through the frames on the pages of the comic book - a world where dialect words and ostensibly worthless objects have sacred powers.
Garner’s prose is distilled beyond the prosaic, purged of empty adjectives - such a refined brew that it has transmuted back into poetry again. And the reading here is perfectly adapted to the style - giving words the breathing-space they require, and animating Garner’s characters so that the lines of their faces shift with their expressions, and their bodies drip with peaty water.
This is a recording to be treasured like Joe’s donkey-stone, and heard repeatedly. It will open your ears - as Joe’s eyes are opened.