Darkmans

Nicola Barker

From the award-winning author of ‘Clear ‘comes an epic novel of startling originality.

If History is just a sick joke which keeps on repeating itself, then who exactly might be telling it, and why? Could it be John Scogin, Edward IV’s infamous court jester, whose favourite pastime was to burn people alive – for a laugh? Or could it be Andrew Boarde, Henry VIII’s physician, who kindly wrote John Scogin’s biography? Or could it be a tiny Kurd called Gaffar whose days are blighted by an unspeakable terror of – uh – salad? Or a beautiful, bulimic harpy with ridiculously weak bones? Or a man who guards Beckley Woods with a Samurai sword and a pregnant terrier?

‘Darkmans’ is a very modern book, set in Ashford (a ridiculously modern town), about two very old-fashioned subjects: love and jealousy. It’s also a book about invasion, obsession, displacement and possession, about comedy, art, prescription drugs and chiropody. And the main character? The past, which creeps up on the present and whispers something quite dark – quite unspeakable – into its ear.

‘Darkmans’ is the third of Nicola Barker’s visionary narratives of the Thames Gateway. Following on from ‘Wide Open’ (winner Dublin IMPAC award 2000) and ‘Behindlings’ it confirms Nicola Barker as one of Britain’s most original and exciting literary talents.

Reviews of Darkmans

    • ‘When a new novel by Nicola Barker arrives, there is a host of reasons to break into a smile. Chief among them is that she is one of the most exhilarating, audacious and, for want of a better word, ballsy writers of her generation. And, in a publishing terrain that often inhibits ambition and promotes homogeneity, there is nobody writing quite like her.’ Alex Clark, Observer
    • ‘Inventive, witty and well staged.’ Hugo Barnacle, Sunday Times
    • ‘There is a constant sense she might launch us into the minds of one of her psychotics and leave us there, and this gives her books a fearsome energy.’ Independent
    • ‘Rich, sensual, almost synaesthetic powers of description and association.’ Times Literary Supplement
    • ‘Each of her works brims with electricity, energy and invention, with rude humour, originality and contrariness. Who else but Barker would produce an 838-page epic with little describable plot, taking place over just a few days and set in – wait for it – Ashford? For that’s what “Darkmans” is, and it is phenomenally good. Barker is a great, restless novelist, and “Darkmans” is a great restless novel. At the end of 838 blinding, High-octane pages, I was bereft that there weren’t 838 more.’ Patrick Ness, Guardian
    • ‘An idiosyncratic, witty and utterly original vision of Albion.’ Independent