Knockabout has announced Alan Moore’s second novel, Jerusalem, will now be published in September 2016.
Described as a fantastical exploration of his hometown of Northampton which runs to more than a million words in draft form, publisher Tony Bennett described it last year as Alan’s “best work to date, rich and glorious”.
In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England’s Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap tower blocks. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district’s narrative among its saints, kings, prostitutes and derelicts a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol-coloured puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them. Fiends last mentioned in the Book of Tobit wait in urine-scented stairwells, the delinquent spectres of unlucky children undermine a century with tunnels, and in upstairs parlours labourers with golden blood reduce fate to a snooker tournament.
Disappeared lanes yield their own voices, built from lost words and forgotten dialect, to speak their broken legends and recount their startling genealogies, family histories of shame and madness and the marvellous. There is a conversation in the thunderstruck dome of St. Paul’s cathedral, childbirth on the cobblestones of Lambeth Walk, an estranged couple sitting all night on the cold steps of a Gothic church-front, and an infant choking on a cough drop for eleven chapters. An art exhibition is in preparation, and above the world a naked old man and a beautiful dead baby race along the Attics of the Breath towards the heat death of the universe.
An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and pages of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth and poverty; of Africa, and hymns, and our threadbare millennium. They discuss English as a visionary language from John Bunyan to James Joyce, hold forth on the illusion of mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon the meanest slum as Blake’s eternal holy city.
Fierce in its imagining and stupefying in its scope, this is the tale of everything, told from a vanished gutter…
Alan began work on Jerusalem in 2008 and finished his gargantuan draft in September 2014.
Liveright will publish the book in the US, and rights have been sold in several other territories including Italy and Brazil.
Last year, The Guardian suggested that readers looking for further indications of what Jerusalem may hold can turn to his 1996 novel in prose, Voice of the Fire, which is also set in Northampton. Weaving together the stories of 12 different characters over a period of 6,000 years, from a cave-boy to a Roman emissary to a crippled nun, the novel opens in 4000BC.
Tony Bennett says no excerpts are available yet, but the cover will follow in a few weeks and then “some bits from the book” after that.
• Knockabout is online at www.knockabout.com