The biggest book in Britain is The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy. It’s ostensibly a children’s book, and yet it is adored by adults. Indeed, it’s been at the top of The Times of London’s best-seller list for the past six months. Since being published in October, the book has become both Waterstones’s and Barnes & Noble’s book of the year. It has been translated into 17 languages and counting. It has sold a million copies in the U.K. and the U.S. alone. Goodreads reviewers are breathless with praise for its simple koans to basic human goodness. One called it “a balm for your aching soul during the pandemic.”

“It’s very odd, because the whole book was instinctively made,” says Mackesy, a wild-haired 57-year-old. He’s been staying with friends in Oxfordshire recuperating from a torn spinal disk incurred just before the lockdown. “A lot of people were saying, ‘Well, you need more of a narrative. It’s too weird.’”