Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She lives and works in east London. She was the winner of the David Higham Prize for Fiction and joint winner of the Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Love Your Enemies, her first collection of stories (1993). Her first novel Reversed Forecast was published in 1994 and a short novel Small Holdings followed in 1995. A second collection of short stories Heading Inland, for which Nicola received an Arts Council Writers' Award, and received the 1997 John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. Her story `Symbiosis' was filmed and broadcast on BBC2; another story, `Dual Balls', was commissioned for broadcast on Channel 4 and shortlisted for a BAFTA Award. Her third novel Wide Open was published in 1998, and won the English-speaking world's biggest literary award for a single work, the IMPAC Prize. In 2000 she published another short novel, Five Miles from Outer Hope. Her fifth novel, Behindlings, was published in 2002 and the following novel, Clear, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. Darkmans, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2007, the 2008 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Award and won the Hawthornden Prize for 2008. Most recently, Barker's work THE YIPS has been longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2012. She was named as one of the 20 Best Young British Novelists by Granta in 2005. Her work has been translated into over a dozen languages.
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`She is scatological, mischievous, subversive and original. Barker's transfiguration of the commonplace is radically unlike Muriel Spark's, but no less dazzling'. The Times, Ruth Scurr`Barker captures - and lovingly distorts - both the rhythms and banality of language. She is, as it were, Harold Pinter on crack' Justin Cartwright, The 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.`English fiction's great eccentric offers up a typically riotous saga' Guardian`...more consistently surprising than War and Peace, at least.' Sunday Telegraph`There is nothing conventional about THE YIPS ... its originality, its charm or its peculiar beauty ... yet [it is] is full of straightforward reading pleasures' Sunday Times