Darkmans

Nicola Barker

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.

Reviews of Darkmans

  • ‘This is the work of a very fine storyteller indeed.’ The Times

    ‘The writing is often hilarious. Barker carves up the suburban dinner party savagely, and anatomises the dodgiest builder on Earth…Nicola Barker’s writing is hugely attractive, because it conjures images and ideas from a tremendous wealth of inspiration. It is the product of a powerful, sprawling imagination.’ Daily Telegraph

    ‘a loud shout of glorious, untidy, angry, joyous life. 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.’ Guardian

    ‘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.’ Observer

    ‘A visionary epic.’ Sam Leith, in the Spectator ‘Books of the Year’

    ‘Darkmans is all about the ebullience of language, the erruption of the past into the present, the seriousness and darkness of jokes. It defies moderation because it celebrates misrule. Highly original and interesting, and doing it with conviction and sharp humour. I know I whipped through its more than 800 pages with attention unbroken. And I know that the very night I finished it, it showed up in my dreams. Seriously.’ Literary Review