Nicola Barker - Author

About the Author

Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She lives and works in east London. She was the winner of the David Higham Prize for Fiction and joint winner of the Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Love Your Enemies, her first collection of stories (1993). Her first novel Reversed Forecast was published in 1994 and a short novel Small Holdings followed in 1995. A second collection of short stories Heading Inland, for which Nicola received an Arts Council Writers' Award, and received the 1997 John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. Her story 'Symbiosis' was filmed and broadcast on BBC2; another story, 'Dual Balls', was commissioned for broadcast on Channel 4 and shortlisted for a BAFTA Award. Her third novel Wide Open was published in 1998, and won the English-speaking world's biggest literary award for a single work, the IMPAC Prize. In 2000 she published another short novel, Five Miles from Outer Hope. Her fifth novel, Behindlings, was published in 2002 and the following novel, Clear, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. Her most recent novel, Darkmans, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2007. She is one of Granta's 'Best Young British Novelists' of the decade.

Photograph by Tony Davis

Featured books by Nicola Barker

Other books by Nicola Barker

H(A)PPY

H(A)PPY

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/07/2017

*WINNER OF THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2017* *LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018* *LONGLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE 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.

The Cauliflower (R)

The Cauliflower (R)

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/01/2017

'Extremely ambitious' Financial Times 'An imaginative tour de force ... She really is a genius' Guardian 'A delight' New Statesman FROM THE MAN BOOKER-SHORTLISTED AUTHOR NICOLA BARKER To the world he is Sri Ramakrishna - godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, beloved guru. To temple owner, Rani Rashmoni, he is the Brahmin fated to defy tradition. But to Hriday, his nephew and long-time caretaker, he is just Uncle - maddening, bewildering Uncle, prone to entering trances at the most inconvenient of times, known to perform dangerous acts of self-effacement, who must be vigilantly safeguarded not only against jealous enemies but also against that most treasured yet insidious of sulphur-rich vegetables: the cauliflower.

The Cauliflower (R)

The Cauliflower (R)

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/04/2016

To the world he is Sri Ramakrishna - godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, beloved guru. To Rani Rashmoni, he is the Brahmin fated to defy tradition. But to Hriday, his nephew and long-time caretaker, he is just Uncle - maddening, bewildering Uncle, prone to entering trances at the most inconvenient of times, known to perform dangerous acts of self-effacement, who must be vigilantly safeguarded not only against jealous enemies but also against that most treasured yet insidious of sulphur-rich vegetables: the cauliflower. Rather than puzzling the shards of history and legend together, Barker shatters the mirror again and rearranges the pieces. The result is a biographical novel viewed through a kaleidoscope. Dazzlingly inventive and brilliantly comic, irreverent and mischievous, The Cauliflower (R) delivers us into the divine playfulness of `one of the most exhilarating, audacious, and . . . ballsy writers of her generation' (Observer).

In the Approaches

In the Approaches

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 05/06/2014

'Open yourself up again to all that terrible light and savage bliss and deafening reverberation ...'In the Summer of 1971, a charismatic family seeks refuge in the quiet, English coastal backwater of Pett Level. Bran Cleary is a controversial Irish muralist; his fractious and promiscuous wife (and muse) 'Lonely' Allaway is half Aboriginal; their strange, sickly daughter, Orla Nor, is almost a Saint.Thirteen years later, a shifty individual turns up in Pett Level, apparently determined to get to the bottom of the bizarre and ultimately tragic events which unfolded in the aftermath of that arrival. But does he really want to understand, or is he just way too close to the story to make any clear sense of it? And what of the locals who seem so determined to resist and undermine his investigations?'In The Approaches' is a fabulously twisted comedy of very bad manners which starts out as a seaside idyll and ends up as a pilgrimage - sometimes sacred, sometimes profane, and frequently both at once. Set in a 1984 which seems almost as distantly located in the past as Orwell's was in the future, Nicola Barker's tenth novel offers a captivating glimpse of something more shocking than any dystopia - the possibility of faith.

The Yips

The Yips

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/03/2013

The hilarious Man Booker-longlisted novel from the author of `Darkmans' and `The Burley Cross Postbox Theft'. 2006 is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Tiger Woods' reputation is entirely untarnished and the English Defence League does not exist. But storm-clouds are gathering above the bar of the less-than-exclusive Thistle Hotel in Luton. Among those caught up in the unfolding drama are a man who's survived cancer seven times, a woman priest with an unruly fringe, the troubled family of a notorious local fascist, an interfering barmaid with three E's at A-level but a PhD in bullshit, a free-thinking Muslim sex therapist and his considerably more pious wife. But at the heart of every intrigue and the bottom of every mystery is the repugnantly charismatic Stuart Ransom - a golf star in free-fall.

Not The Marrying Kind A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage

Not The Marrying Kind A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2013

Not the Marrying Kind is a new and comprehensive exploration of the contemporary same-sex marriage debates in several jurisdictions including Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. It departs from much of the existing scholarship on same-sex marriage, which argues either for or against marriage for same-sex couples. Instead, this book begins from a critical analysis of the institution of marriage itself (as well as separate forms of relationship recognition, such as civil partnership, PaCS, domestic partnership) and asks whether and how feminist critiques of marriage might be applied specifically to same-sex marriage. In doing this, the author combines the theories of second wave feminism with insights from contemporary queer theory.

Yips

Yips

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 16/10/2012

The Man Booker Prizenominated novel by one of the most original authors of our timeStorm clouds are gathering above the bar of the less-than-exclusive Thistle Hotel. Stuart Ransom, a jet-setting, supermodel-chasing pro golfer with an extravagant ego and a career nearing the end of a spectacular decline, is drinking his way through the night. Desperate for attention, he strikes up free-flowing conversations with anyone who will listen. But as he banters with Jen, the impish barmaid with a talent for telling tall tales rivaled only by Stuart's own, the night takes an extraordinary turn.Among those caught up in the unfolding drama are a tattooist with a mad mother and a love of anything from the 1940s; a free-thinking Muslim sex therapist and his considerably more conservative wife; the mysterious Vicki, the sister of Stuart's defiant yet curiously devoted manager; and a misguided female vicar of the Church of England and her husband, Gene, the Thistle's hapless bartender.They are a highly entertaining and eccentric bunch, but there's more to them than meets the eye. ';There enter in questions of what it is to be consumed by love or lust, by shame, by the longing to be someone else or nobody' (The Guardian), and The Yips unites them in an absorbing, exhilarating tour de force.

Reversed Forecast

Reversed Forecast

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 16/10/2012

The first novel by the acclaimed, brilliantly unconventional Nicola Barker, prize-winning author of The Yips Reversed Forecast is a vivid snapshot of pre-gentrification London and a tale of finding love in less-than-scenic places. Chance meetings between its cast of inimitably odd individualsRuby, the betting-shop cashier; violently disturbed (and disturbing) Vincent; Samantha, the would-be cabaret singer; and Little Buttercup, the never-quite-made-it greyhoundresult in the unlikeliest of couples. There's always the risk that it could all be disastrous as characters tryor don't tryto make winning combinations. But as Ruby, the story's soft-centered heroine, observes: ';Losing, that's the whole point of the gamble.'Dazzling, gritty, and surprising, Reversed Forecast is the uniquely entertaining first novel by Nicola Barker, previously shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and winner of the Hawthornden Prize and IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.';Beautifully renderedwell written, clear and revelatory.' The Times (London)';A capital fairy tale.' The Guardian ';A strange and wonderful novel.' The Sunday Times (London)';An imaginative lowlife tale, told with acuteness and verve.' The Literary ReviewNicola Barker's eight previous novels include Darkmans (short-listed for the 2007 Man Booker and Ondaatje prizes, and winner of the Hawthornden Prize), Wide Open (winner of the 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), and Clear (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2004). She has also written two prize-winning collections of short stories, and her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in East London.

Small Holdings

Small Holdings

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 16/10/2012

Sharp, poignant, and frequently surreal, Small Holdings is a comedy of errors from everyday life by prize-winning author Nicola Barker';I tried to work out which was worse; feeling different but fitting in or being different but feeling in your heart like you should fit but not quite fitting. Which was worse? Stupid question.'An attractive park outside London plays host to Phil, a chronically shy gardener who feels truly at home only with his plants. Perhaps his closest human ally is his gentle colleague Ray, a man with all the sense and verve of a Savoy cabbage. Phil is also pining for an unattainable woman, but until her obsession with trucks abates, he knows he has little chance at true love. Soon, however, another problem breaks into Phil's melancholy but orderly existence: He and Ray are being tormented by their unpredictable supervisor and a malevolent one-legged man. Phil strives nobly to keep his balance despite being systematically mystified, brutalized, drugged, derided, and seduced. But when he loses his eyebrows, he decides to fight back.Small Holdings is a novel about stupid questions. It is also a moving, funny, and provocative portrait of our time.

Wide Open

Wide Open

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 16/10/2012

';Barker's weird imagination works wonders with this extraordinary tale of two brothers . . . Exceptional.' ElleWinner of the 2000 IMPAC Dublin Literary AwardNicola Barker's remarkable literary genius illuminates a tale of family and loss.As winner of the highly prestigious IMPAC International Dublin Literary Award, Wide Open topped a list of titles by such masters as Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, and Michael Cunningham. It is a truly extraordinary work of fiction, taking readers into the minds and hearts of the remarkable inhabitants of a small English seaside town. There's Ronny, who has some strange things in common with a man he finds dangling from a bridge; Nathan, the son of a pedophile, who toils in the Underground's Lost Property department, endlessly logging missing items; Sara, in charge of her family boar farm; and Lily, her teenage daughter, tragically born with unformed organs and blood that refuses to clot. Wide Open is a novel about stripping off layers of prejudice and lies, and about the possibility of redemption. It is also about coming to terms with the past, and about the fantasies people construct in order to protect their fragile inner selves. Starkly originaland at turns hilarious, sad, and hopefulWide Open exuberantly displays Barker's singular talent.

Five Miles from Outer Hope

Five Miles from Outer Hope

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 16/10/2012

An instant classic of teenage self-discovery by prize-winning Nicola Barker, an ';anarchic and lovingly perverse writer' (Ali Smith)Summer, 1981. Medve, sixteen years old and six foot three in her crocheted stockings, is marooned in a semi-derelict hotel on a tiny island off the coast of Devon, England. There's nothing to do but paint novelty mugs, dream of literary murders, and despair of her gothically unprepossessing familyincluding Mo, her sex toyinventing mother; Poodle, her shamefully flat-chested sister; and four-year-old Feely, who wants to grow up to be a bulimic. Until one day a ginger-headed stranger arrives . . .One of our most enjoyably unconventional contemporary writers, Nicola Barker, roots out the darkly surreal in a forgotten corner of the world. Five Miles from Outer Hope is a startling, luminous book, and Medve's voice speaks bluntly from the heart, with results that are original and poignant.

Burley Cross Postbox Theft

Burley Cross Postbox Theft

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 16/10/2012

From the Man Booker Prizenominated author of The Yips comes an epistolary novel of startling originality Reading other people's letters is always a guilty pleasure. But for PC Roger Topping, who is contemplating a cache of twenty-seven undelivered missives retrieved from a back alley in Skipton, it's also work. The quaint English 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 an 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. They plunge into complaints about dog shit, amateur dramatics, and an Auction of Promises that goes staggeringly wrong. Nicola Barker's epistolary novel is a work of immense comic range, sparkling, disquieting, and thrilling all at once.

Three Button Trick and Other Stories

Three Button Trick and Other Stories

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 16/10/2012

Nicola Barker, Man Booker Prizeshortlisted author of Darkmans and The Yips and winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and Hawthornden Prize, gathers her finest short fiction in this irresistible collectionAudacious, original, clever, poignantthese are just a few words that describe the writing of Nicola Barker, an award-winning author who has been compared to Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, and Margaret Atwood. Now nineteen of her finest short stories have been compiled into one startling, delightfully readable volume.It takes young Carrie twenty-one years and a chance meeting with an eighty-three-year-old widow to realize she fell victim to her husband's ';three button trick.' The main character in ';Wesley' must work through his troubled childhood in a series of episodes involving masses of eels, an imaginary friend named Joy, and an unmentionable incident with an emu-owl. Whether describing erotic encounters behind clothing racks or a kleptomaniac with his organs on the wrong side, these stories never fail to surprise us, entertain us, and make us think.';Nicola Barker's is a singular world, a hectic place of uncommon characters and naughty, memorable prose . . . Her style is fast, funny, profound, and sharp.' Newsday';An astounding writer.' Seattle Weekly';Barker's subjects are often raw and irreverently sexy, while her endings are sometimes abrupt, but she never fails to surprise and delight with incisive writing and piercing wit, to say nothing of all the vivid characters inhabiting these rambunctious and witty stories.' Publishers WeeklyNicola Barker's eight previous novels include Darkmans (short-listed for the 2007 Man Booker and Ondaatje prizes, and winner of the Hawthornden Prize), Wide Open (winner of the 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), and Clear (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2004). She has also written two prize-winning collections of short stories, and her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in East London.

The Yips

The Yips

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2012

The hilarious new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted author of DARKMANS, Nicola Barker.2006 is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Tiger Woods' reputation is entirely untarnished and the English Defence League does not exist yet. Storm clouds of a different kind are gathering above the bar of Luton's less than exclusive Thistle Hotel. Among those caught up in the unfolding drama are a man who's had cancer seven times, a woman priest with an unruly fringe, the troubled family of a notorious local fascist, an interfering barmaid with three E's at A-level but a PhD in bullshit, a free-thinking Muslim sex therapist and his considerably more pious wife. But at the heart of every intrigue and the bottom of every mystery is the repugnantly charismatic Stuart Ransom - a golfer in free-fall.Nicola Barker's THE YIPS is at once a historical novel of the pre-Twitter moment, the filthiest state-of-the-nation novel since Martin Amis' MONEY and the most flamboyant piece of comic fiction ever to be set in Luton.

Heading Inland

Heading Inland

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/10/2011

Heading Inland is a funny, broody, saucy collection of stories about the kind of people you sometimes meet but might prefer to ignore. Barker creates a wonderfully fantastical and unimaginable world: an unborn baby escapes an unsuitable mother through a secret belly-button zip; a wayward and yet enigmatic man attempts to rescue eels from an East End pie shop; a young woman discusses her fascination in other women's breasts; a boy with his inside organs back to front desperately seeks attention; and a bitter old woman becomes bent on war with a tramp. This collection confirms Nicola Barker as one of the most versatile and original writers of her generation with a brilliant unconventional imagination she creates a new world that sparkles with dark humour.

Burley Cross Postbox Theft

Burley Cross Postbox Theft

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2011

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.

Wide Open

Wide Open

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2011

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.

Burley Cross Postbox Theft

Burley Cross Postbox Theft

Author: Nicola Barker Format: eBook Release Date: 29/04/2010

From the award-winning 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 two West Yorkshire policemen - contemplating a cache of 27 undelivered missives, retrieved from a back alley behind the hairdresser's in Skipton - it's also a job of work. The quaint moorside village of Burley Cross has been plunged into turmoil by the theft of the contents of its postbox, and when PC Roger Topping takes over the case, which his higher-ranking schoolmate Sergeant Laurence Everill has so far failed to crack, his expectations of success are not high.Yet Topping's investigation into the curtain-twitching lives of Jeremy Baverstock, Baxter Thorndyke, the Jonty Weiss-Quinns, Mrs Tirza Parry (widow), and a splendid array of other weird and wonderful characters, will not only uncover the dark underbelly of his scenic beat, but also the fundamental strengths of his own character.The denizens of Burley Cross inhabit a world where everyone's secrets are worn on their sleeves, pettiness becomes epic, little is writ large. From complaints about dog shit to passive-aggressive fanmail, from biblical amateur dramatics to an Auction of Promises that goes staggeringly, horribly wrong, Nicola Barker's epistolary novel is a work of immense comic range. It is also unlike anything she has written before. Brazenly mischievous and irresistibly readable, Burley Cross Postbox Theft is a Cranford for today, albeit with a decent dose of Tamiflu, some dodgy sex-therapy and a whiff of cheap-smelling vodka.

Darkmans

Darkmans

Author: Nicola Barker Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2008

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.

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