, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 170-180

‘In the hands of the Receivers’: The Politics of Literacy in The Savage by David Almond and Dave McKean

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David Almond and Dave McKean’s The Savage is a hybrid prose and graphic novel which tells the story of one young man’s maturation through literacy. The protagonist learns to deal with the death of his father and his own “savage” self by writing a graphic novel. This article reads The Savage in the context of earlier, “Northern” literacy narratives—particularly Tony Harrison’s poem “Them & [uz]” and Barry Hines’ Kes—through the discourse of neoliberalism and the notion of the reluctant boy reader. It is suggested that Almond and McKean are influenced by currently dominant ideologies of gender and literacy.

Erica Hateley is a lecturer in the School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education at Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia). She is the author of Shakespeare in Children’s Literature: Gender and Cultural Capital (Routledge, 2009), and is currently undertaking research into Australian children‘s book award winners.