Open yourself up again to all that terrible light and savage bliss and deafening reverberation …’
In the Summer of 1971, a charismatic family seeks refuge in the quiet, English coastal backwater of Pett Level. Bran Cleary is a controversial Irish muralist; his fractious and promiscuous wife (and muse) 'Lonely' Allaway is half Aboriginal; their strange, sickly daughter, Orla Nor, is almost a Saint.
Thirteen years later, a shifty individual turns up in Pett Level, apparently determined to get to the bottom of the bizarre and ultimately tragic events which unfolded in the aftermath of that arrival. But does he really want to understand, or is he just way too close to the story to make any clear sense of it? And what of the locals who seem so determined to resist and undermine his investigations?
In The Approachesis a fabulously twisted comedy of very bad manners which starts out as a seaside idyll and ends up as a pilgrimage – sometimes sacred, sometimes profane, and frequently both at once. Set in a 1984 which seems almost as distantly located in the past as Orwell’s was in the future, Nicola Barker’s tenth novel offers a captivating glimpse of something more shocking than any dystopia – the possibility of faith.
Praise for The Yips:
"Barker is ostensibly a comic writer, and is indeed snort-inducingly funny at times … What's more - just about uniquely in this country - she is thinking intelligently and critically about how to make [a realist] tradition work in the present day. But it's not for her virtue that she deserves to be read; it's for pleasure." (Keith Miller, Daily Telegraph)
"There are moments when Stuart Ransom has the vulgar bravura of John Self in Martin Amis's ‘Money'…but Barker is unique and it's for the pleasures of her style that one reads her." (Kate Kellaway, Observer)
"Dementedly imaginative … stomach-turningly hilarious … What she has written is a state of the nation novel of the sort Dickens and Hogarth might have jointly conjured up had they ever visited Luton." (Michael Prodger, Financial Times)
"Barker is at once sui generis and the Google-age inheritor of a tradition. The first third or so of the book gives us a Chaucerian sketch show sequence of comic set-pieces … then it takes a left turn into Shakespeare territory." (Sam Leith, Guardian)
"Barker captures - and lovingly distorts - both the rhythms and banality of language. She is, as it were, Harold Pinter on crack." (Justin Cartwright, Spectator)
"A specialist in likeable British grotesques … wackier siblings to those in Hilary Mantel's ‘Beyond Black'. ‘The Yips' cannot be faulted for its free-flowing imagination." (Tom Cox, Independent)
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Strange but captivating