New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590176467, 190pp.
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Life in a city can be atomizing, isolating. And it certainly is for William G. and Neaera H., the strangers at the center of Russell Hoban’s surprisingly heartwarming novel Turtle Diary. William, a clerk at a used-book store, lives in a rooming house after a divorce that has left him without home or family. Neaera is a successful writer of children’s books, who, in her own estimation, “looks like the sort of spinster who doesn’t keep cats and is not a vegetarian. Looks…like a man’s woman who hasn’t got a man.” Entirely unknown to each other, they are both drawn to the turtle tank at the London zoo with “minds full of turtle thoughts,” wondering how the turtles might be freed. And then comes the day when Neaera walks into William’s bookstore, and together they form an unlikely partnership to make what seemed a crazy dream become a reality.
“It's this dissonance between the simple turtle story and the irresolvable adult story that makes Turtle Diary a quiet masterpiece.” —Bookforum
“It is an insightful and droll novel about mid-life discontents, entirely timely for the readers who grew up on his books and who now have children and crises of their own. Out of print for several years, this new edition of "Turtle Diary," with an introduction by Ed Parks, gives us a chance to discover a different Hoban – not the earlier children’s author and not the later fantasy novelist – and to be charmed by what’s in between.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“A story about the recovery of life...Like other cult writers—Salinger for instance, or Vonnegut—Hoban writes about ordinary people making life-affirming gestures in a world that threatens to dissolve in madness." —Newsweek
"Crackles with witty detail, mordant intelligence and self-deprecating irony." —Time
"This wonderful, life-saving fantasy will place Russell Hoban where he has got to be--among the greatest, timeless novelists." —The Times (UK)
"The marvellous energy of Mr. Hoban's writing, simultaneously dry and passionate, justifies everything he does." —Times Educational Supplement
"Russell Hoban is our ur-novelist, a maverick voice that is like no other. He can take themes that seem too devastating for contemplation and turn them into allegories in which wry, sad humour is married to quite extraordinary powers of imagery and linguistic fertility that makes each book a linguistic departure." —Sunday Telegraph