Russell Hoban

From Academic Kids

Russell Conwell Hoban (born February 4, 1925) is an American writer of fantasy, science fiction, mainstream fiction, magic realism, poetry, and children's books. He lives in England.

Contents

Biography

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hoban enlisted in the Army at age 18 and served in the Philippines and Italy as a radio operator during World War II. He then worked as an illustrator (painting several covers for TIME magazine) and an advertising copywriter, before writing and illustrating his first children's book, What Does It Do and How Does It Work.

Shortly after writing his first full-length novel, The Mouse and His Child, he moved to London in 1969 with his first wife—illustrator Lillian Hoban, who collaborated on his successful children's series "Frances the Badger"—intending to stay only a short time; following the breakup of his marriage, he remained in London and has resided there ever since. All of his adult novels except Riddley Walker, Pilgermann and Fremder are set in whole or part in contemporary London.

Themes and genres

Hoban is often described as a fantasy writer; only two of his novels, Turtle Diary and The Bat Tattoo, are entirely devoid of supernatural elements. However, the fantasy elements are usually presented as only moderately surprising developments in an otherwise realistic contemporary story, i.e. magic realism. Exceptions include Kleinzeit (a comic fantasy whose characters include Death, Hospital, and Underground), Riddley Walker (generally considered science fiction because of its futuristic though primitive setting), Pilgermann (a historical novel about the Crusades), and Fremder (a more straightforward science fiction novel).

Many of his novels could also be considered romances, following the development of a relationship between two characters who often take turns as narrators, bonding over some common obsession or artistic interest.

There is frequent repetition of the same images and themes in different contexts: for instance, many of Hoban's works refer to lions, Orpheus, Eurydice, Persephone, Vermeer, severed heads, heart disease, flickering, Odilon Redon, and King Kong.

Adult novels

  • The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973)
  • Kleinzeit (1974)
  • Riddley Walker (1980)
  • Pilgermann (1983)
  • Turtle Diary (1986)
  • The Medusa Frequency (1987)
  • Fremder (1996)
  • Mr. Rinyo-Clacton's Offer (1998)
  • Angelica's Grotto (1999)
  • Amaryllis Night and Day (2001)
  • The Bat Tattoo (2002)
  • Her Name Was Lola (2003)
  • Come Dance with Me (2005)

Selected children's books

  • "Frances the Badger" series: Bedtime for Frances, Bread and Jam for Frances, etc. (1960-1970)
  • The Mouse and His Child (1968, republished 1990)
  • Egg Thoughts and Other Frances Songs (1972) (poetry)
  • How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen (1974)
  • La Corona and the Tin Frog (1979)
  • The Marzipan Pig (1986)
  • The Trokeville Way (1996)
  • The Last of the Wallendas (1997) (poetry)

Other works

  • The Carrier Frequency (1984) (stage play)
  • Deadsy and Door (1989, 1990) (text and narration for animated films by David Anderson)
  • The Second Mrs. Kong (1994) (libretto for opera composed by Harrison Birtwhistle)

External links

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