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'One of the funniest, most finely achieved comic novels, even by her own standard … I think it’s a masterpiece.' ALI SMITH
‘I think Nicola Barker is incapable of a dull page. [Her work] is unified by its spirit of adventure.’ KEVIN BARRY
How long does it take to change the world?
Could it happen in approximately twenty minutes?
Charles, a forty-year-old teddy bear maker, is trying to sell his late mother's house, helped by his estate agent Avigail (who thinks Charles is an imbecile). The prospective buyers: the fearsome Wang Shu - who has no desire to make idle chit-chat - and her downtrodden daughter, Ying Yue.
During the twenty-minute viewing a huge number of things happen, although it is also entirely possible that nothing happens at all. Which is it? Can the world really turn on its axis during a mundane discussion about cheese preservation? Has fiction the power to do that? Should it even want to?
'She really is a genius.’ GUARDIAN
‘Life-affirming hilarity – Evelyn Waugh on ecstasy.’ NELL ZINK
'A madly brilliant little book that asks who at any point is in control of what. I loved it.' DAILY MAIL
‘Nicola Barker’s wildness and capacity for the absurd often delight me.’ SARAH MOSS
‘What an audacious writer Nicola Barker is … In an era when plot is king, Barker has typically, joyously, dispensed with one … Barker’s pleasure in the novella feels defiant.’ EVENING STANDARD
‘I Am Sovereign is bursting with energy, compassion and humour.’ LITERARY REVIEW
‘Barker is a writer in a class of her own … A work of coruscating intelligence, of deep humanity.’ OBSERVER
‘A riotous burst of a novel that scrutinises the nature of fiction with the lightest of touches.’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘A bracing, brilliantly bonkers comic novel … This is freewheeling fiction that delights in the visual.’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Barker’s writing is very, very funny, both ha ha and strange ... Fans of Ali Smith’s “Seasonal Quartet” will enjoy a similarly arch, detached view on the banality of contemporary Britain ... A gloriously audacious blend of, well, the deep and the trite.’ INDEPENDENT
Shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, an epic novel of startling originality which confirms Nicola Barker as one of Britain's most exciting literary talents.
If history is a sick joke which keeps on repeating, then who keeps on telling it? Could it be John Scogin, Edward IV's jester, whose favourite skit was to burn people alive? Or could it be Andrew Boarde, physician to Henry VIII, who wrote John Scogin's biography? Or could it be a Kurd called Gaffar whose days are blighted by an unspeakable terror of salad? Or a beautiful bulimic with brittle bones? Or a man who guards Beckley Woods with a Samurai sword and a pregnant terrier?
Darkmans is a very modern book, set in ridiculously modern Ashford, about two old-fashioned subjects: love and jealousy. And the main character? The past, creeping up on the present and whispering something quite dark into its ear.
Darkmans is the third of Nicola Barker's visionary Thames Gateway novels. Following Wide Open (winner Dublin IMPAC award 2000) and Behindlings it confirms one of Britain's most original literary talents.
*WINNER OF THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2017*
*SHORTLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE 2018*
*LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018*
A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
A TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR
From the internationally acclaimed, Man Booker-shortlisted Nicola Barker comes a new novel, a post-post apocalyptic story that overflows with pure creative talent.
Imagine a perfect world where everything is known, where everything is open, where there can be no doubt, no hatred, no poverty, no greed. Imagine a System which both nurtures and protects. A Community which nourishes and sustains. An infinite world. A world without sickness, without death. A world without God. A world without fear.
Could you...might you be happy there?
H(A)PPY is a post-post apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland, a story which tells itself and then consumes itself. It's a place where language glows, where words buzz and sparkle and finally implode. It's a novel which twists and writhes with all the terrifying precision of a tiny fish in an Escher lithograph – a book where the mere telling of a story is the end of certainty.
From the Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of Darkmans comes a comic epistolary novel of startling originality and wit.
Reading other people’s letters is always a guilty pleasure. But for PC Roger Topping contemplating a cache of 27 undelivered missives, retrieved from a back alley in Skipton, it’s a job of work. The quaint village of Burley Cross has been plunged into turmoil by the theft of the contents of its postbox, and no-one is above suspicion.
Yet Topping's investigation into the curtain-twitching lives of the eminently respectable Burley Cross residents not only uncovers the dark underbelly of his beat, but reveals a hitherto unknown strength of character buried deep within the young flatfoot.
The denizens of Burley Cross inhabit a world of epic pettiness, where secrets are the currency. From complaints about dog shit to passive-aggressive fanmail, from biblical amateur dramatics to an Auction of Promises that goes staggeringly wrong, Nicola Barker’s epistolary novel is a work of immense comic range. Irresistibly mischievous, Burley Cross Postbox Theft is Alan Bennett with added Tamiflu, sex-therapy and cheap vodka.
Winner of IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2000, Wide Open is the first of Nicola Barker’s Thames Gateway novels.
Poking out of the River Thames estuary, the strange Isle of Sheppey is home to a nudist beach, a nature reserve, a wild boar farm and not much else. The landscape is bleak, but the people are interesting. There's Luke, who specialises in join-the-dots pornography and lippy, outraged Lily. They are joined by Jim, the 8-year-old Nathan and the mysterious, dark-eyed Ronnie.
Each one floats adrift in turbulent currents, fighting the rip tide of a past that swims with secrets. Only if they see through the lies and prejudice will they gain redemption. Wide Open is about coming to terms with the past, and the fantasies people construct in order to protect their fragile inner selves.
From the brilliantly unconventional Nicola Barker, the short stories in ‘Love Your Enemies’ present a loving depiction of the beautiful, the grotesque and the utterly bizarre in the lives of overlooked suburban Britons.
Layla Carter, 16, from North London, is utterly overwhelmed by her plus-size nose. Rosemary, recently widowed and the ambivalent owner of a bipolar tomcat, meets a satyr in her kitchen and asks, ‘Can I feel your fur?’
In these ten enticingly strange short stories, a series of marginalised characters seek truth in the obsession and oppression of everyday existence, via a canine custody battle, sex in John Lewis and some strangely expressive desserts.
The sly and subversive sixth book from Nicola Barker, one of our most funny and anarchic writers.
It's the summer of 1981. Medve, sixteen years old and six foot three inches tall (a positive girl giant) is stuck in a semi-derelict art-deco hotel on a tiny island off the South coast of Devon, with the rest of her crazy family members. There's nothing to do but paint Margaret Thatcher mugs to supplement the meagre family income, wait for Soft Cell's 'Tainted Love' to come out and dream of literary murderer Jack Henry Abbott.
Into this family affair, strolls 19-year-old La Roux (The Sauce), a deserter from the South African army with flaming ginger hair. It’s not long before Medve and La Roux embark on a barbed flirtation, full of simmering sexuality and bad intentions, which ends in the very destructive "Operation Vagina”… things will never be the same again.
Longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize. A raucous, novel about the circus surrounding David Blaine’s starvation stunt at Tower Bridge, from a Granta Best of British Novelist.
On 5th September 2003, New York Illusionist David Blaine entered a small perspex box adjacent to the River Thames and commenced starving himself. Forty-four days later – on 19th October – he left the box, four stone lighter. That much, at least, is clear.
And the rest? The crowds? The chaos? The hype? The rage? The rows? The lust? The filth? The bullshit? The hypocrisy?
Nicola Barker fearlessly crams all that and more into this ribald and outrageous peep show of a novel, her most irreverent, caustic, up-to-the-minute work yet, laying bare the heart of our contemporary world, a world of illusion, delusion, celebrity and hunger.
The breakthrough novel from one of the greatest comic writers in the language – one of the twenty selected by Granta as the Best of Young British Writers 2003.
Some people follow the stars. Some people follow the soaps. Some people follow rare birds, or obscure bands, or the form, or the football.
Wesley prefers not to follow. He thinks that to follow anything too assiduously is a sign of weakness. Wesley is a prankster, a maverick, a charismatic manipulator, an accidental murderer who longs to live his life anonymously. But he can't. It is his awful destiny to be hotly pursued – secretly stalked, obsessively hunted – by a disparate group of oddballs he calls The Behindlings. Their motivations? Love, boredom, hatred, revenge.
The first novel from the brilliantly unconventional Nicola Barker is a tale of gambling, allergies, music and dogs, set in some of London’s less scenic locations.
Chance meetings between its cast of eccentric individuals – Ruby the bookie's cashier, violently disturbed (and disturbing) Vincent, Samantha the would-be cabaret singer, wilfully sickly Sylvia and Little Buttercup the never-quite-made-it greyhound – result in the unlikeliest of couples; and there’s always the risk that it could all work out disastrously as characters select each other and try or don’t try to make winning combinations. But, as Ruby, the story’s soft-centred heroine, observes: ‘Losing, that’s the whole point of the gamble.’
Hilarious, poignant and frequently surreal, Small Holdings is a is a comedy of errors from a neglected corner of everyday life by the brilliantly unconventional Nicola Barker.
An attractive park in Palmers Green plays host to Phil, a chronically shy gardener who feels truly at home only with his plants. He and his gentle colleague Ray, a man with all the sense of a Savoy cabbage, are tortured by Doug, their imposing and unpredictable supervisor, and a malevolent one-legged ex-museum curator called Saleem. In love with the truck-obsessed Nancy, Phil strives nobly to maintain his equilibrium despite being systematically mystified, brutalised, drugged, derided and seduced. But when he loses his eyebrows, he decides to fight back.