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Barker, Nicola

(British, 1966– )

Barker writes surreal comic novels and stories, often about people on the fringes of society. Small Holdings (1995) deals with a group of gardeners in a London park, including a chronically shy narrator and a one-legged woman ex-museum curator who torments him. Wide Open (1988, Impac Award 2000), is set in an out of season nudist colony, a boar farm, a bat cave, and the London Underground ‘Lost and found’ department, and is (partly) about two brothers coming to terms with their past. Behindlings (2002) features odd-balls who follow the charismatic hero despite his desire for anonymity. Clear: A Transparent Novel (2004) centres on David Blaine's 44 days of starvation in a Perspex box by Tower Bridge. Inventive insights fail to add up to a satisfying narrative whole; Barker's short stories, a selection of which were reissued as The Three Button Trick (2003) are often a better vehicle for her surreal and Pythonesque vision.

Alan Warner, Lucy Ellman  JR

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)