Russell C(onwell) Hoban 1925–
Hoban has had a successful career as a writer and illustrator of children's stories, often employing animals as his protagonists. With The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz and Kleinzeit Hoban began to write allegorical novels for adult readers, but he retained the magical and bizarre worlds of his children's stories. Consistent throughout his adult novels is Hoban's search for the patterns that make life significant—and this often in the face of a threatening, desolate, or near mad world. For example, in Turtle Diary, his third novel, his adult protagonists seek meaning for their own lives by freeing sea turtles from a zoo. Hoban's prose style, markedly individual, fresh, and often funny, is a linguistic match for his metaphysical themes.
Riddley Walker, Hoban's recent novel, has been hailed as his finest achievement to date. Some critics predict that it will become a cult novel, similar to Tolkien's Hobbit stories. Set in the distant future after a twentieth-century atomic holocaust, Riddley Walker has received special acclaim for Hoban's use of a barely recognizable but phonetically decipherable English language that reflects the outcome of disrupted civilization.
(See also CLC, Vol. 7; Children's Literature Review, Vol. 3; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.; and Somthing about the Author, Vol. 1.)