27 December 2009

Nicola Barker

Picture of Nicola Barker
I'm going to alienate some of my few readers again, by letting literature creep into this blog, diluting the normal diet of football and anticatholicism (which sounds like I must be a Rangers supporter, which is unfortunate.) But once again I'm girlishly excited at the prospect of a new book by one of my favourite novelists. This time, it's one of my favourite living English novelists, Nicola Barker.

Among the forgettable predictions in the Observer's Hot List 2010 (it puts the trite into detritus), there's notice of her new novel, Burley Cross Postbox Theft, and the publisher's website says it's coming out in April.

It's an epistolary novel, which I don't think she's ever done before, and I wonder if that will mean some loss to the quirky (I say quirky, you say irritating) style that she has been using with increasing intensity. The last novel, Darkmans, was a baffling, entrancing work. I still don't really know what happened at the end, but the sheer brilliance of the writing kept me hooked for the 800+ pages. It's the opposite of transparency, of course: writing that refuses to be ignored.

Here's a partial summary from the publisher:
From complaints about dog shit to horse-trodden turkeys, from Biblical amateur dramatics and a failing novelist's fan mail, a chicken that turns out to be a duck and an Auction of Promises that goes staggeringly, horribly wrong a dozen times and more, Nicola Barker's epistolary novel is one of immense comic range, her characteristic ambition, her shrewd humanity but, above all, about how we laugh at ourselves and fail to see the funny side.

If that was about a more mainstream novelist, I'd be worried. But I trust Nicola Barker, and so will be pre-ordering the book as soon as Amazon feature it.

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