Five Miles from Outer Hope

Nicola Barker

The sly and subversive sixth book from Nicola Barker, one of our most funny and anarchic writers.

It’s the summer of 1981. Medve, sixteen years old and six foot three inches tall (a positive girl giant) is stuck in a semi-derelict art-deco hotel on a tiny island off the South coast of Devon, with the rest of her crazy family members. There’s nothing to do but paint Margaret Thatcher mugs to supplement the meagre family income, wait for Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ to come out and dream of literary murderer Jack Henry Abbott.

Into this family affair, strolls 19-year-old La Roux (The Sauce), a deserter from the South African army with flaming ginger hair. It’s not long before Medve and La Roux embark on a barbed flirtation, full of simmering sexuality and bad intentions, which ends in the very destructive “Operation Vagina”… things will never be the same again.

Reviews of Five Miles from Outer Hope

    • ‘If you ever despair that young British female writing is only concerned with marriage, men and weight problems, you just need to pick up one of Barker’s books to reassure yourself that all is not bland…She writes of the comic and sometimes sinister surrealism of ordinary people’s lives, and the results are books to make you wince, gasp and laugh out loud. The latest addition… is a sharp, deft account of teenage frustration’ Independent
    • ‘The pages are alive with arch metaphors, apt similes, puns and riddles…A challenging evocation of that strange, magical, bewildering period between a child and reaching adulthood’ Financial Times
    • ‘At times comic and whimsical, sometimes sad and occasionally grating, ‘Five Miles from Outer Hope’ is always fresh, original and tightly written’ The Times
    • ‘It’s a first-love, rites of passage novel, refreshingly free of rose-tinted sentiment…by the way, it’s also very funny’ Literary Review
    • ‘This novel, which cleverly sidesteps the traps of earnestness and seriousness, could well be read as a sort of literary tonic for enervation and grumpiness, the latest welcome despatch from Barker’s determinedly perverse and ungovernable imagination’ Guardian