Reviews

  • "The punk poet, or madcap magician, of a particularly dismal sort of English environment ... [The Cauliflower] does somehow cohere into a complex, satisfying whole ... A collection of free-standing scenes that spring into vivid motion when you turn the pages ... Barker’s approach is cheerfully anachronistic: the text is peppered with references to cinema and pop singers ... [A] vibrant, funny, garrulous and lovely book. It is a celebration of spirituality and faith ... Perfectly balanced between clownish irreverence and hushed respect for the numinous."

    Sunday Times
  • "What makes [The Cauliflower] distinctively Barkeresque is that she throws a literary hand grenade into the form of the historical novel as we know it ... Barker not only refuses to switch off, but spirals and giddies and churns relentlessly. The result is typically atypical, expectedly unexpected and inexplicably good. She really is a genius."

    Stuart Kelly, Guardian
  • "One of the most excitingly and exhaustively non-linear novelists around ... Such audacity comes with a style to match ... She opens up a mind-set usually incomprehensible to secular westerners ... Swifts, apparently, can’t feed on the ground, as their feet are unsuited to walking on it; instead, they live almost entirely on the wing. As such, they are an almost perfect metaphor for Barker’s dazzling, and defiantly non-pedestrian style ... This exuberantly imaginative novel about mysticism takes flight with panache."

    David Robinson, Herald
  • "[A] complex, funny book … Strange, febrile and utterly unique … A story packed with vitality, wit, sly charm and astonishing energy."

    Justin Cartwright, Spectator
  • "The novel is crammed with facts, history, research and the arcana of Hinduism — and Barker is determined to lay it out for us in all its richness ... This is an extremely ambitious book, playful, maddening, overlong, thought-provoking and rich. As an investigation of faith — which is what it must surely be — that’s not a bad way to go."

    Financial Times