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Clear by Nicola Barker


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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

A 2003 Granta Best of British and multi-prize winning author, you’ve got to try her. Unusual, manic, incident-packed and highly original, it’s like being on a mix of amphetamine and booze, great fun. The subject matter is pretty sensational too for it revolves around David Blaine’s suspended starvation in his plastic box above the Thames in 2003. This reflects the circus that occurred beneath him. Much enjoyed and highly recommended.

Comparison: Rachel Cusk, Toby Litt, Susan Elderkin.

Similar this month: Gerard Woodward, Joyce Carol Oates.

If you like Nicola Barker you might also like to read books by Susan Elderkin, Rachel Cusk and Toby Litt.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Clear by Nicola Barker

On 5th September 2003, New York illusionist David Blaine entered a small perspex box beside the River Thames and began starving himself. Forty-four days later he left the box. The end. The real show, of course, was on the sidelines: the crowds, the chaos, the hype and most enjoyably, the hypocrisy.

Through the eyes and exploits of Adair Graham MacKenney, bitter, shameless and irreverent, we see this world for what it is: a place of illusion, delusion, celebrity and hunger. And, naturally, lust. With her Tupperware and awful shoes, Adair finds himself unaccountably drawn to the reluctant Aphra. But when has futility ever stopped anyone? Just think of the guy in the perspex box. Wickedly comic, caustic and uncommonly astute, this outrageous peep show of a novel gives us our contemporary world laid bare.


'The hippest literary novel of the year' Boyd Tonkin, Independent

'Nicola Barker's linguistic exuberance got me hooked … Like an angel dancing on the head of a pin, she takes a brief event in the crowded capital and uses it to whoop and whirl … impressive, smart, funny, fast' Observer

'Barker knows how to manufacture an arresting image … she is such a brilliant and original writer' Guardian

About the Author

Nicola Barker

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

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Book Info

Publication date

4th July 2005


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Harpercollins Publishers




Literary Fiction
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