Author(s): Nicola Barker
To the world he is Sri Ramakrishna - godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, beloved guru. To Rani Rashmoni, he is the Brahmin fated to defy tradition. But to Hriday, his nephew and long-time caretaker, he is just Uncle - maddening, bewildering Uncle, prone to entering trances at the most inconvenient of times, known to form dangerous acts of self-effacement, who must be vigilantly safeguarded not only against jealous enemies but also against that most treasured yet insidious of sulphur-rich vegetables: the cauliflower. Rather than puzzling the shards of history and legend together, Barker shatters the mirror again and rearranges the pieces. The result is a biographical novel viewed through a kaleidoscope. "Dazzlingly inventive and brilliantly comic, irreverent and mischievous, The Cauliflower[registered] delivers us into the divine playfulness of 'one of the most exhilarating, audacious, and ...ballsy writers of her generation." (Observer).
From the internationally acclaimed, Man Booker-nominated author Nicola Barker.
"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
Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She is the author of ten previous novels - including Wide Open, Darkmans, The Yips and In the Approaches - and two short story collections. She has been twice longlisted and once shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, has won the IMPAC, the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Hawthornden Prizes, and was named one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Writers in 2003. She lives and works in east London.