Pilgermann by Russell Hoban

‘Superb … Pilgermann is history, metaphysics, a tangle of mysteries, profound and simple’ Guardian

It is 1097 and a traveller arrives in the great, walled city of Antioch with a vision of a beautiful and mysterious geometric design that will change the lives of all those who see it. Pilgermann is a mesmerising recreation of the world of the Crusades, following its unlikely hero and those he meets on a journey of picaresque horror across a Europe of hatreds, visions and a desperate wish for salvation.

‘A dark treatise on the mysterious nature of things … The world according to Pilgermann is a brutish place borrowing from Hieronymus Bosch, pilgrimage narrative, allegory and the historical novel’ The New York Times Book Review

‘A strange and beautiful work’ Evening Standard


Pilgermann here.



(@PenguinUKBooks, 25 March 2021, paperback, 288 pages, bought from @LRBbookshop via a Subscription Box)




This is a new author for me. Pilgermann blew me away and I’ve already identified a few other titles by the author that I find strangely appealing. This is an astonishing book. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. I also said that recently about The Starless Sea and the same can be said of both even though they are very different. Pilgermann is an unusual book and hard to describe. Think of the book as a sort of re-telling of the Crusades with lots of religious overtimes and some science fiction and fantasy elements. There are even black and white sketches of the strange geometrical patterns that capture and fundamentally change the world in the book (you need to read it to understand what I mean). Pilgermann is beautifully written and mesmerising. It completely absorbed me. I thought it was amazing.   

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