‘Treacle Walker’ by Alan Garner

Shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize, Treacle Walker is a playful and luminous novella on the art of storytelling as Joseph Coppock convalesces at home, visited by the mythical Treacle Walker. Living alone in an old house, Joseph reads comics, plays marbles and tells the time by the whistle of a distant steam train. With a lazy eye, his world of vision and reality shifts according to the dominant eye of the time.

A rag-and-bone man by trade, Treacle Walker is part healer, part soothsayer, part folklore and persuades Joseph to exchange seemingly unimportant items for an empty jar of a cure-all medicine. And so a mysterious and eccentric friendship develops between the two, merging magic, folk tales, mysticism and mythology.

Spare, cryptic and quietly understated, Treacle Walker is a beautifully written, evocative fusion of a tale. Deceptively simple, it’s something of a treasure hunt (with asides and red herrings galore) that manages to meander and be on point at the same time. The result is a book that is difficult to categorise or easily summate without providing detail – and the beauty of Treacle Walker is the self discovery of Alan Garner’s writing, a man ostensibly labelled a ‘writer for children since the publication of his first book, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960), a label Garner himself firmly rejects.

Shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.


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