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With her fresh, confident sophomore novel (after Behindlings), Barker offers a meditation on illusionist David Blaine's feat of self-starvation—44 days spent suspended in a clear box above the Thames River. Analytical narrator Adie, a prickly, literate young man who works in an office overlooking the Blaine spectacle, carefully dissects the psychology of both Blaine and the hordes of onlookers who feed him attention as he slowly starves. Meanwhile, Adie's own drama unfolds, set off by a strange encounter with Aphra, a perplexing girl with a freakish sense of smell and a fetish for vintage shoes who spends her nights on the riverbank watching Blaine sleep. As Adie's involvement with Aphra grows more complicated, his initially cynical interest in Blaine becomes more obsessive. "Perhaps... this loopy illusionist has tapped into something.... A fury. A disillusionment," Adie muses, ruminating on the vileness and beauty that Blaine's presence has brought out among Brits. Despite Adie's determined disdain for the man, the unwelcome "Hunger Artist" leads him to wonder if "Some things are beyond the reach of art. Some words are meaningful beyond understanding." Offbeat and authentic, intellectual and accessible, Barker's is an original voice. (June)
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“Barker’s weird imagination works wonders...Exceptional.” (Elle)
“The brilliance of Barker’s style is beyond question.” (Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectator (A Book of the Year))
“The diversity of Barker’s imagination is stunning; her language, witty and exact.” (Daily Telegraph (London))
“An exasperating, beguiling, and occasionally damn-ner perfect piece of work [by an] infuratingly talented British author.” (Kirkus Reviews on Behindlings)
“Nicola Barker has a rare writing talent.” (Time Out (London))
“Barker’s earthy, inventive, hilarious, and wickedly satirical novel is enormously entertaining.” (Booklist)
“Her vision is unique, funny, dark, sarcastic and clever.” (Alain de Botton)
“Barker’s narrative draws us in with the disturbing, surreal touch of a latter-day Lewis Carroll.” (Sunday Times (London))
“Dazzling...She celebrates the complexity of human experience.” (London Times)
“The plot doesn’t just twist, it leaps and back-flips and does triple somersaults...” (New York Times Book Review)