Soonchild by Russell Hoban..review from the Guardian
Soonchild is a marvellous, expressive and wonderfully complex and weird exploration of life, fear and human nature. Sixteen-Face John is a shaman who lives in The North, but he has been neglecting his spiritual duties. His wife is pregnant, but the baby, Soonchild (of the title, refuses to be born because it can't hear the World Songs that every child must hear before they can be born. It is Johns' responsibility to retrieve the World Songs that Soonchild may come into the world.
Reading Russell Hobans' work is always both a pleasure and a journey. Even his simplest stories lead us into other spaces; all of them rich and complex. Soonchild is no exception. It reads very much like an old Inuit legend, and then again it is a very contemporary read. It is easy to get lost in this book, but the very nature of the story depends that we get lost and make our way through the wilderness back home again with Sixteen-Face John. The writing is endlessly descriptive, but not over-burdening in its' descriptions. And the presentation of the book itself, the sheer beauty of it and the completely perfect illustrations by Alexis Deacon make this a completely remarkable experience.
Attached is the link to Toiny Bradman's review.