2006 is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Tiger Woods' reputation is entirely untarnished and the English Defence League does not exist yet. Storm-clouds of a different kind are gathering above the bar of Luton's less than exclusive Thistle Hotel. Among those caught up in the unfolding drama are a man who's had cancer seven times, a woman priest with an unruly fringe, the troubled family of a notorious local fascist, an interfering barmaid with three E's at A-level but a PhD in bullshit, a free-thinking Muslim sex therapist and his considerably more pious wife. But at the heart of every intrigue and the bottom of every mystery is the repugnantly charismatic Stuart Ransom – a golfer in free-fall.
Nicola Barker's THE YIPS is at once a historical novel of the pre-Twitter moment, the filthiest state-of-the-nation novel since Martin Amis' MONEY and the most flamboyant piece of comic fiction ever to be set in Luton.
‘Barker is ostensibly a comic writer, and is indeed snort-inducingly funny at times … But Barker is neither a classicist nor a modernist: she is working in the realist tradition. What’s more – just about uniquely in this country – she is thinking intelligently and critically about how to make that tradition work in the present day. But it’s not for her virtue that she deserves to be read; it’s for pleasure. Apart from all else, she is very good on love, of both the married and the physical sort, assuming they are two different things – which, of course, the realist tradition tends to assume they are' - Keith Miller, Daily Telegraph
‘English fiction’s great eccentric offers up a typically riotous saga’ - Guardian
'There are moments when Stuart Ransom has the vulgar bravura of John Self in martin Amis’s Money and occasionally the novel also reminds one of Hilary Mantel – a comparable master of dark comedy. But Barker is unique and it’s for the pleasures of her style that one reads her' - Kate Kellaway, Observer
‘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
‘… we are reminded that Barker is a novelist of both epically large and trivially small … The result is more consistently surprising that War and Peace, at least' - Sunday Telegraph
‘There is nothing conventional about THE YIPS … its originality, its charm or its peculiar beauty. Barker is in many ways a challenging and discomforting writer, yet her work is full of straightforward reading pleasures. She combines serious intentions with lightness of touch, toughness with compassion, and has a unique imagination’ -Sunday Times