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.
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.
The result is typically atypical, expectedly unexpectedly and inexplicably good. She really is a genius
Stuart Kelly, The Guardian
Were I to go into all my feelings about The Cauliflower®, this post would become as long as the book. Read it! I’m probably going to read it again, because there are so many nuances and observations that I’m sure I missed the first time through.
Books and Feminism
The Cauliflower brims with rich delicacies of arcana and ephemera ... [Barker] has created a zany, frustrating, brilliant work that, despite flaunting its historicity, does more to prove Barker's rich talent for invention.
Francesca Wade, Telegraph
A deeply researched piece whose fascinated impetuosity and esoteric mode of address still transmit a vast quantity of information about the guru and his life . . . watching Barker’s garrulous, profound, silly and bitingly intelligent mind at play is one of the greatest and most contagious delights in modern British fiction.
Tim Matin, New Statesman
It’s another terrific novel from Nicola Barker. As an experiment in structure and form it’s fascinating, but as an exploration of the life of someone we could never hope to understand, it’s absolutely essential.
Comic and elaborate … A vivid panorama … The increasing pleasures to be found in The Cauliflower® arise not so much from espying the seams along which the novel’s texture is assembled as from the variously authoritative voices that tell this story from many competing perspectives.
Times Literary Supplement
A life story in all its mystical, magical human extremes . . . a mixture of irreverence and fascination, awe and appreciation, scepticism and wonderment, and it is so energetic that the pages fly . . . In The Cauliflower®, the most daring piece of storytelling to appear in English this year, faith is fact, imagination is knowledge.
S. Prasannajaran, Open Magazine (India)
The Cauliflower is an unconventional telling of a weird and wonderful story.
Barker's writing is completely original and insightful and bursting full of spirituality. The novel is thoroughly enjoyable.
[A] bold and fascinating work.
A marvel of enlightened entertainment.
Bizarre but very readable; this novel is recommended.
The Book Bag
Barker’s writing is completely original and insightful.
It worked beautifully for me.
A Life in Books
Impertinent, irreverent and very funny.
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