Released from Captivity: Hugo Wilcken’s Colony

Two weeks ago I wrote about Hugo Wilcken’s second novel Colony, and was surprised and delighted by it. It’s a book of high literary ambition – fully achieved – but also with a compelling story. To me that meant it should appeal to a wide audience, rather than the audience of hardly anyone that it actually reached on publication in August 2007. I was delighted to see so many people buying copies after my review went up (and slightly alarmed that for once my recommendations will be held to account). If you’re one of those people, look away now, because I’ve just snaffled a handful of copies of Colony to give away.


If you would like a copy of Colony, say so in the comments box below by Monday 15 June. The offer is open to readers anywhere in the world, and as usual all you have to do is read it and say what you thought: here, on your own blog, on Amazon, in the pub or anywhere else. If you don’t, you will be sent to a penal colony in French Guiana without supper.


  1. Great news! I am a steady reader of your blog – all the way from Denmark. I put “Colony” on my “to buy and read”-list after your very good review of the book.

    Actually, I mentioned “Colony” on my own blog “The Escapist” (in danish) after I have just read Goldings “Lord of the Flies”. Have you thought of any connections between the two books?

    Anyway, I would love to recieve a copy of “Colony” from you… :-)

    Carsten / The Escapist

  2. I would love to receive a copy of “Colony”..however I am in India :-( I so want to read it cos its not available here…Vivek

  3. Well that’s a great offer. But I am still going to buy the book, so that it gets the support it (probably) deserves. Its shot up now to book number 1,024 on my to read list ;)

  4. Oh, yes please, add me into the hat. Thank you. (And by the way, other thing entirely, the latest post on the CBe blog Sonofabook picks up from the end of your McGahern review.)

  5. Am i too late? I’ve been following the Colony bulletins with interest and it sounds intriguing and well… i don’t want to pass up this offer. name in the ragged colonial hat please!

  6. Definitely put me in the pot, John. Firstly because it sounds tremendous, secondly because I’m somewhat compromised on the book-buying front as my wife is due to give birth imminently! Here’s hoping……

    1. Good luck Lee – all my friends seem to be either about to have babies or just had them. Hope you find the time to read in between feeds when the big day (month, year, lifetime) comes!

      1. Cheers, John. I’ve been practising my one-handed reading technique (I’m sure I could now do a few decent card tricks) in preparation, though I’m sure the lack of sleep will make such matters moot!

  7. Please put me in the pot!

    Counting against me are the facts that: I don’t have a blog, and so my review would appear on the palimp where you have already done the job far better than I would; and secondly, I live in Amsterdam, which would need international postage.

    If I haven’t ruled myself out completely, it would be much appreciated.

  8. I just discovered your blog from a Twitter link; hurray! Colony sounds like an interesting read, and I’d love to win a copy. I’d be happy to write a review and post it on Gather where I am the Friday member editor of the Writing Essentials group.

  9. I put this on my wishlist but haven’t been able to buy it yet, so please put me in the pot ad well. Your review really did make me want to read it right away!

  10. /sigh/

    am I too late for this party or what Rob?
    Or is it names in a hat.

    My intention is to read it and then either stick it on BookCrossing, as I have just found out that a local eatery is a BC ‘site’, or, Freecycle it…..I might do what Rob has done, give it away, but via Twitter as I rarely blog these days

    so many essys to write etc :eek:


  11. No Mark, you’re in plenty of time. The draw is open until next Monday and yes, five winners will be chosen from all the entrants at that stage. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear earlier.

  12. Sure. Add me to the list.

    It’s got such a pretty cover! And the review sounds promising, too. Resulting comments would end up on my own blog…

  13. After reading your review & being somewhat low on funds I have desired but not aquired this book, please consider me for free copy.

  14. I might as well throw my name in too as I doubt this book will even come out in the states. It sounds interesting and any comparison with Galgut plays well with me. I never win anything of course but that’s okay. At least someone will be profiting. Thanks for your generosity John.

  15. Hey John – sign me up! (As distinct from the Richard immediately above.)

    (Also, everyone, I can vouch for the excellence of Wilcken’s other novel, The Execution.)

  16. Hello

    So far I haven’t been disappointed with your recommendations so i’ll be eager to take part in this contest and as swallowing the sun I’ll read and review it on my blog

  17. Hey John,

    I’d love to be entered in the drawing. After all, you’ve personally built up the hype to a fevered pitch.

  18. Hi John, am I too late? I feel I MUST join the list. I may be the most flamboyant destination (Chile), but since you said anywhere in the world!

  19. Already have my copy and am reading at the moment on your reco. So far so good! Just need to cancel work / postpone life or something so I can really get my teeth into it.

  20. Thanks for making the offer avalaible for readers worldwide. I would love to get a copy (and I will buy it at Amazon anyway if I don’t win, I’m a sucker for prison dramas and I love Cormac McArthy, so if Steve Mitchelmore is right in his appreciation I know I’ll gulp it). Cheers.

  21. Yes, I like the sound of this! Only just discovered your blog after a #followfriday

    Thanks a lot! I’m going to check out some of your other reviews now…

  22. Squeaking in under the wire, I would like a shot at Wilcken’s “Colony”. Thanks for the opportunity and for exposing your faithful readers to underappreciated authors. I am very pleased the marketplace is feeling your influence. Your great work is being rewarded.

  23. By the way, after reading through all the other entries, if you have any thoughts on comparisons between “Lord of the Flies” and “Colony”, I too would be interested. I recently got reacquainted with “Lord of the Flies” myself through an audiobook read by Golding himself. (I commute an hour plus to work, so audiobooks provide a passable substitute for the real thing during that otherwise wasted time.

  24. Thanks for all the interest in this draw, everyone. Sorry to be late with the results.

    The random numbers between 1 and 48 were 12, 29, 36, 37, and 38, which I work out as being Peter Crowe, Richard the second (as it were), Nico, Seoman and bill r. Well done everyone, I’ve emailed you to get your addresses.

    Incidentally, for those in the US who weren’t successful, Colony is now available there – check Amazon or elsewhere.

  25. Oh, goodness! I didn’t expect that. I’m very pleased. Thanks very much, John — and in case you weren’t aware, because for some reason I added the “r” to my name, this is bill of the Palimpsest…

  26. Thanks a lot John. I’ve been force-feeding myself Dutch lit lately, so this will make a nice palate cleanser. I’ll post a palimp review when I’m done.

  27. Congratulations to the winners! Thanks, John, for the contest and, more so, for bringing this book wider recognition. Off to Amazon….

  28. Yes I saw that Tom, with mixed feelings! Oddly, in my limited experience, print mentions rarely enhance blog hits. Notoriety will have to suffice in lieu of fame.

  29. Hi John, thanks for the book, got the copy! I’m looking forward to the winter break to read it. Thanks again!

  30. The Private Eye column is funny, in a sad kind of way. They mention that the book’s sales increased by 5000% or whatever, then reveal that in real terms the total sales of Colony are now… 21 copies. I wonder if that’s true. If so, it only reaffirms that the publishing world is a cruel one.

  31. It’s not true Jonathan, or not quite. The sales of Colony since publication have been very low, since (so far as I can tell) it was published with not much more promotion or distribution than a vanity press book. Private Eye’s figure relies on Nielsen BookScan. The main problem with this, particularly in the present case, is that BookScan doesn’t count sales from the Book Depository or Amazon Marketplace, which I believe are the places most people bought from following my review of the book.

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