Susan Barker is twenty-five-years old, with a Chinese-Malay mother and an English father, and grew up in East London. She spent two years working in Japan after her graduation. She has just completed an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester University.
Set in a hostess bar is Osaka, Japan, with an odd mishmash of interesting, seedy or sinister characters of various nationalities, this is wild underworld stuff with raw emotions, slick writing, East versus West, modern versus traditional themes all bound into an extraordinarily stylish first novel. A sort of Manga/ Blade Runner cross.Comparison: Haruki Murakami, Banana Yashimoto, Monique Truong.Similar this month: None but try Taichi Yamada for another Japanese novel.
Hailed as Chinas Midnights Children (The Independent) this brilliant, mind-expanding, and wildly original novel (Chris Cleave) about a Beijing taxi driver whose past incarnations over one thousand years haunt him through searing letters sent by his mysterious soulmate.Who are you? you must be wondering. I am your soulmate, your old friend, and I have come back to this city of sixteen million in search of you. So begins the first letter that falls into Wangs lap as he flips down the visor in his taxi. The letters that follow are filled with the stories of Wangs previous livesfrom escaping a marriage to a spirit bride, to being a slave on the run from Genghis Khan, to living as a fisherman during the Opium Wars, and being a teenager on the Red Guard during the cultural revolutionbound to his mysterious soulmate, spanning one thousand years of betrayal and intrigue. As the letters continue to appear seemingly out of thin air, Wang becomes convinced that someone is watching himsomeone who claims to have known him for over one thousand years. And with each letter, Wang feels the watcher growing closer and closer Seamlessly weaving Chinese folklore, history, and literary classics, The Incarnations is a taut and gripping novel that sheds light on the cyclical nature of history as it hints that the past is never truly settled.
'Mesmerising storytelling' New York Times A New York Time Notable book of the year 2015 SHORTLISTED FOR THE KIRKUS REVIEW PRIZE 2015 '[A] kaleidoscopically imaginative novel...Barker stitches together an unnervingly perceptive portrait of China and of the enduring influence that its past has on the present' The New Yorker 'A thrilling journey through a thousand years of obsession and betrayal, this is the most extraordinary work of imagination you'll read all year' ADAM JOHNSON, Winner of the PULITZER Prize for Fiction 2013 'An extraordinary novel. Erudite, intriguing and compulsively readable, Susan Barker, a born story-teller, has written one of the most remarkable novels of recent years' JOHN BOYNE 'A brilliant, mind-expanding, and wildly original novel' CHRIS CLEAVE 'What a ferociously talented writer Susan Barker is. The Incarnations is a hallucinatory ride. Highly recommend' ANNA HOPE Beijing, 2008, the Olympics are coming, but as taxi driver Wang circles the city's congested streets, he feels barely alive. His daily grind is suddenly interrupted when he finds a letter in the sunshade of his cab. Someone is watching him. Someone who claims to be his soulmate and to have known him for over a thousand years. Other letters follow, taking Wang back in time: to a spirit-bride in the Tang Dynasty; to young slaves during the Mongol invasion; to concubines plotting to kill the emperor; to a kidnapping in the Opium War; and to Red Guards during the Cultural revolution. And with each letter, Wang feels the watcher in the shadows growing closer ...
Malaya 1951, a jungle resettlement camp: young colonial adventurer Christopher Milnar falls passionately in love with a Chinese nurse Evangeline - a fierce flame that ends in tragedy when their camp is attacked by Communist guerrillas and Christopher is violently beaten up. London: half a century later the ghosts of that time return to haunt Christopher, triggering vivid memories of colonial misconduct and lost love. Forced to confront his past, Christopher agonises over the fate of his beloved Evangeline and the disappearance of their daughter, Frances. Moving from present day London to the heart of the Malayan jungle in colonial times, THE ORIENTALIST AND THE GHOST is a stunning portrayal of human frailty and lost love.