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Book Title

The Wake

A Novel
Author 1
Paul Kingsnorth
In the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of 1066, William the Conqueror was uncompromising and brutal. English society was broken apart, its systems turned on their head. What is little known is that a fractured network of guerrilla fighters took up arms against the French occupiers. 
In The Wake, a postapocalyptic novel set one thousand years in the past, Paul Kingsnorth brings this dire scenario back to us through the eyes of the unforgettable Buccmaster, a proud landowner bearing witness to the end of his world. Accompanied by a band of like-minded men, Buccmaster is determined to seek revenge on the invaders. But as the men travel across the scorched English landscape, Buccmaster becomes increasingly unhinged by the immensity of his loss, and their path forward becomes increasingly unclear.
Written in what the author describes as “a shadow tongue”—a version of Old English updated so as to be understandable to the modern reader—The Wake renders the inner life of an Anglo-Saxon man with an accuracy and immediacy rare in historical fiction. To enter Buccmaster’s world is to feel powerfully the sheer strangeness of the past. A tale of lost gods and haunted visions, The Wake is both a sensational, gripping story and a major literary achievement.

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“A work that is as disturbing as it is empathetic, as beautiful as it is riveting.”—Eimear McBride, New Statesman

About the Author

Paul  Kingsnorth
Credit: Clare McNamee
Paul Kingsnorth is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, Beast, and The Wake. He cofounded the Dark Mountain Project, a global network of writers, artists, and thinkers in search of new stories for a world on the brink.
More by author


  • Named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR, Guardian, Literary Hub, and Minnesota Public Radio
  • “A book unlike any other, brilliant in its rarity and brutal, ugly truth. . . . A raw and powerful masterpiece.”—NPR
  • "Rhythmic, angry, darkly funny and at times poetic."The Wall Street Journal
  • “Like Tolkien’s and Martin’s books, The Wake presents the reader with an immersive experience. . . . What sharply distinguishes it is its disorienting use of high literary experiment and its insistence on uncertainty.”Bookforum
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