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  • Published: 20 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9781473539303
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304


From the internationally acclaimed, Man Booker-shortlisted Nicola Barker comes a new novel, a post-post apocalyptic story that overflows with pure creative talent.



From the internationally acclaimed, Man Booker-shortlisted Nicola Barker comes a new novel, a post-post apocalyptic story that overflows with pure creative talent.

Imagine a perfect world where everything is known, where everything is open, where there can be no doubt, no hatred, no poverty, no greed. Imagine a System which both nurtures and protects. A Community which nourishes and sustains. An infinite world. A world without sickness, without death. A world without God. A world without fear.

Could you...might you be happy there?

H(A)PPY is a post-post apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland, a story which tells itself and then consumes itself. It's a place where language glows, where words buzz and sparkle and finally implode. It's a novel which twists and writhes with all the terrifying precision of a tiny fish in an Escher lithograph - a book where the mere telling of a story is the end of certainty.

  • Published: 20 July 2017
  • ISBN: 9781473539303
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

About the author

Nicola Barker

Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She is the author of twelve 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. Her latest novel, H(A)PPY, won the 2017 Goldsmiths Prize and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018.

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Praise for H(A)PPY

Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY is a work of vaulting ambition. It is deathly serious but played out with the lightest of touches. She takes the vapid discourse of social media blather, with all its ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’, and extrapolates madly to make a language for an utterly believable future world, a world enslaved by the blandness of its technology. Line by line, the novel carefully builds its music and teases out its crazed riffs. It’s very funny but there are pockets of great eeriness, and of savagery even. It’s a novel-as-object, too, with a typography employed as visual code, but its design always has a narrative purpose. Only a writer of uncanny ability could bring this novel to such memorable, pulsing life. It’s very moving.

Kevin Barry

H(A)PPY is anything but conventional, subverting the traditions of sci-fi, typography and narrative … The coloured words are joined by a host of typographical flourishes, making the book a bravura piece of design … Barker is as gnomic, terrifying and glorious as ever.

Justine Jordan, Guardian

Nicola Barker’s kaleidoscopic new novel is a socio-political futurama with a wildness and honesty all of its ownWhat wonders there are in Nicola Barker’s bewildering, fatiguing and deliciously stimulating new novel … Echoing and quoting literary styles and situations, disrupting the words on the page – via those coloured inks, blank pages, typographical games – in a manner that traces a line from Laurence Sterne to avant-gardists such as BS Johnson, Deborah Levy and Tom McCarthy … But H(a)ppy ventures far beyond a retread of narratological theory … Any description of H(a)ppy can only fail to do justice to its wildness and its honesty. It is a superb novel by a genuinely experimental and committed novelist. In Barker’s hand, narrative, however fragile, not only survives but thrives.

Alex Clark, Observer

(Barker) specialises in formal eccentricity, thematic novelty, stylistic excess ... Her new book is her strangest yet, an avant-garde slice of dystopian science fiction that thumbs its nose...at the conventions of the genre ... It is a small miracle that this uncompromising anti-novel about the collapse of narrative absolutely works ... Barker is as innovative and idiosyncratic as ever.

Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times

No book Nicola Barker writes is remotely like a book by anyone else, which is one of the many reasons to celebrate her. Also, no two books by Nicola Barker are doing remotely the same thing, which is another. So you never quite know what you’re in for. And H(A)PPY, even by her own extravagant standards, is very strange indeed … Barker has always been a visionary writer – visionary in style, with past and present interpenetrating in dream and hallucination. But her interest in religious visions and theology here comes to the fore … As I say, Barker is not remotely like any other writer. With its typographical jiggering about (words really do change colour, and some pages have blocks of identical text or no text at all), and its favouring of symbols and ideas over characters, setting and story, it’s more like a poem or artwork than a novel. Still, it’s quite something. I’m just not sure what.

Sam Leith, Literary Review

With polychromatic printing, creative typography and sheer inspiration, the post-apocalyptic novel has been turned on its head … In most fiction set in totalitarian states, the principal protagonist will gradually realise the monstrosity of the regime…Nicola Barker, one of our greatest contemporary novelists, with typical élan, turns this paradigm inside out … This must be the most beautifully designed book I have read since Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves … As the novel progresses, Barker pulls off an astonishing piece of technique … She is the most unpredictable novelist I know.

Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

The English novelist Nicola Barker began publishing in the mid-1990s, hit her stride almost immediatelyBarker seems to find writing fiction as natural as breathing, and there’s a strong imaginative streak to almost everything she does … The Prospero role is here assumed by Barker herself, and the parallel is fairly close: creative to excess, more than capable of abusing her omnipotence, blurring the border between genius and dazzle.

Leo Robson, New Statesman

A trailblazing sci-fi writer makes a bleak future seem fun ... Nicola Barker is the high priestess of weird ... H(A)PPY is the story of one woman's escape from a controlling matrix formed by a powerful artificial intelligence ... As Mira's journey of emancipation progresses, a full-on typographic melodrama explodes off the page ... It's confusing but fun. Barker, along with David Mitchell and Dave Eggers, is an important trailblazer for literary sci-if. H(A)PPY does not present a cheerful version of the future of humanity, but in her hands it is a hauntingly convincing one.

Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

Lately, no destination on the map of fiction has welcomed so many visitors as the twin islands of utopia and dystopia. When she entered this populous domain, Nicola Barker – the rule-busting, genre-twisting maverick author of 11 previous novels – was never likely to deliver an orthodox post-catastrophe fable of lonely revolt against an all-powerful, all-knowing tyranny … As ever, Barker spins her ingredients into a wild, antic performance with a tuning – comic, satirical, mystical, downright weird – all her own … You might treat H(A)PPY as a creative uprising against the iron laws of dystopia itself … Beautifully designed pages … An occult musical theme drifts through her dystopian architecture … At times I was tempted to read H(A)PPY as a delirious allegory of the “tuning wars” among musicians … Barker layers the emerging tale of Mira’s disobedience with overtones that hum in the background … Not only the ideas but the very words on the page spiral, loop, morph and shatter. Barker’s expressive typography enacts the breakdowns, and breakthroughs, of Mira’s mutiny: not some avant-garde stunt, but the method of George Herbert’s “pattern poems”, or of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram ShandyShe succeeds in tuning the dystopian genre to a fresh, uncanny pitch.

Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times

H(A)PPY is Barker’s most audacious and important novel since DarkmansA clever exploration of the compulsive and destructive power of narrative … Language, grammar and typography spiral out of control until they reach the crescendo of a typographical cathedral composed of a “billion tiny calculations” … Barker has always been a wildly experimental writer and never more so than now … [H(A)PPY] demonstrates her visceral sensitivity to words.

Ruth Scurr, Times Literary Supplement

Each of Nicola Barker’s books is a world unto itself; with H(A)PPY, winner of the Goldsmiths prize, she pushed the novel towards objet d’art, using colour and madcap typography to conjure a visionary dystopia of surveillance and control in which creativity and individuality refuse to be constrained.

Justine Jordan, Guardian, Books of the Year

Nicola Barker’s extravagant, rambling, joyous and more-than-slightly insane novels always present a certain challenge to the reader … No one else writes like Barker does…a reason to cherish her extraordinary work … [H(A)PPY is] an info-shamanic freakout. It’s a work of print art … You don’t read this novel; you let it pour over you … Once again: no one else writes like Barker, and no one else could have written this book.

Daily Telegraph

Exquisite and unpredictable prose … fluidity is without a doubt the most prominent feature of this novel, which dips into poetry as abruptly as it springs up a diagram.


[A] timely, invigorating novel.


As a physical object this book itself is a work of art; a mind-bending adventure in typography and consciousness to be looked at as much as read.

Guardian, Readers' Books of the Year

As unconventional as its narrator … Mira A is out of kilter, and her rebellious thoughts and emotions cascade across the pages of this visually starting, hugely original tale in a burst of colour as she desperately struggles for freedom and independence over authoritarian control.

Mail on Sunday

Profoundly different from anything I’ve read previously … I will keep coming back to the story for months to come.

i news

Mira, the heroine of Nicola Barker’s hugely original book, strives to step outside the confines of the story that she has been told to keep, in a desperate struggle for freedom. A startling read.


Science fiction-meets-satire piece that mediates on the true meaning of life ... a must-read.

Irish Tatler

[A] visually starting, hugely original tale.

Mail Online

An essential story to read….Barker, whose previous novels have been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, continues to dazzle with H(A)PPY.

Oxford Student

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