by Nicola Barker
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Darkmans by Nicola Barker

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Darkmans is an exhilarating, extraordinary examination of the ways in which history can play jokes on us all... If History is just a sick joke which keeps on repeating itself, then who exactly might be telling it, and why? Could it be John Scogin, Edward IV's infamous court jester, whose favorite pastime was to burn people alive - for a laugh? Or could it be Andrew Boarde, Henry VIII's physician, who kindly wrote John Scogin's biography? Or could it be a tiny Kurd called Gaffar whose days are blighted by an unspeakable terror of - uh - salad? Or a beautiful, bulimic harpy with ridiculously weak bones? Or a man who guards Beckley Woods with a Samurai sword and a pregnant terrier?

Darkmans is a very modern book, set in Ashford [a ridiculously modern town], about two very old-fashioned subjects: love and jealousy. It's also a book about invasion, obsession, displacement and possession, about comedy, art, prescription drugs and chiropody. And the main character? The past, which creeps up on the present and whispers something quite dark - quite unspeakable - into its ear.

The third of Nicola Barker's narratives of the Thames Gateway, Darkmans is an epic novel of startling originality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061575211
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/27/2007
Pages: 848
Sales rank: 1,201,716
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.35(d)

About the Author

Nicola Barker is one of Britain's most original and exciting literary talents. She is the author of two short-story collections: Love Your Enemies [winner of the David Higham Prize and the Macmillan Silver Pen Award] and Heading Inland [winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize]. Her previous novels are Reversed Forecast, Small Holdings, Wide Open Behindlings and Clear, the last of which was long-listed for the 2005 Booker Prize. Her work is translated into twenty languages, and in 2000, she won the IMPAC Award for Wide Open. In 2003, Nicola Barker was named a Granta Best of British Novelist. She lives in London.

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Darkmans 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I dont know where to start except by saying this is one of the books you will look back on and be oh so happy you stumbled across. Stumbled is the key word, i had to seek out a book like this one. it wont be found on the top 10, or bestsellers list and thats a shame but at the same time you will love the fact that you can cherish this and tell only the people you know will appreciate it. Nicola Barker is amazing!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Although geography has made Ashford, England somewhat an important town historically, today it is an ordinary town with ordinary people living ordinary lives. However, it is the past that makes those who live here revel in delight as the present and future beyond a Kent rail stop to the Chunnel is that of mediocrity. Especially fascinating the local populace is the reign of King Henry VIII when Ashford was a somewhat more significant town. However, history proves a cosmic joke when historiographers begin to rewrite it in their image. Thus father and son Beede and Kane get closer yet further apart while Dory and Elen and their five years old son Fleet obsess over the past especially when the kid constructs his match models of historical locales. Kane¿s former girlfriend Kelly accentuates the past as she is yesterday¿s news in his mind. This tale is about ordinary people in an ordinary town living ordinary lives except for that glorious past, which ironically begins to impede on their ordinary well respected lifestyles. --- This is a deep character study that is not an easy novel to read as the action is limited for the most part to the mundane events of everyday living by everyday people yet none of the ensemble cast including the dog are stereotypes each is unique with differing traits. Whereas most English history books focus on the royals, DARKMANS makes the case that those texts and related historical novels miss reality the history writers ignore the complex contributions of regular people who enable a Henry VIII seem greater than life (someone cleans out his bowl). Well written and thought provokingly entertaining, readers will reconsider the key link between prescription drugs and Anglo-Franco wars because a ¿Well Respected Man¿ hides his Kinks as ¿he¿s oh, so good, And he¿s oh, so fine, And he¿s oh, so healthy, In his body and his mind. He¿s a well respected man about town¿ even when his dog poops or pukes publicly. --- Harriet Klausner