Susan Barker biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Susan Barker
Photo: Derek Anson

Susan Barker

Susan Barker Biography

Susan Barker is the author of Sayonara Bar and The Orientalist and the Ghost, both longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. She grew up in East London with a Chinese-Malyasian mother and a British father, and studied creative writing at the University of Manchester. She spent several years living in Beijing while working on The Incarnations, and currently lives in the UK.



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Interview

A conversation with Susan Barker about The Incarnations.

How did you approach writing a novel that contains so many other intricately weaved stories within itself?

Compared to the writing of my previous novels, my approach to writing The Incarnations was haphazard, disorganized, and lengthy. I moved to Beijing in the summer of 2007 in order to research a new book. I wanted to write about modern China and the impact of the rapid social and political change on ordinary Beijingers. I also wanted to interweave several historical stories into the novel, as China's history is so fascinating and rich with narrative possibility. I would like to say I approached the research and writing of The Incarnations in an orderly and systematic manner, but the truth is that I pretty much began researching all of the narratives at once, with only a hazy idea of how they would be structured into a novel.

For years I kept many notebooks full of jottings I made while walking round Beijing, or while reading about life during the Tang Dynasty, the Cultural Revolution, and the other eras in the novel. The contents of these notebooks slowly evolved into Driver Wang's story and the five historical tales. I wrote about five or six drafts of The Incarnations and the process was disorderly—I returned...

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Books by this Author

Books by Susan Barker at BookBrowse
The Incarnations jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Susan Barker but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Rabih Alameddine

    Rabih Alameddine

    Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, I, the Divine, The Hakawati, An Unnecessary Woman and most recently, The Angel of History; also, the story collection, The Perv. He divides his time between San Francisco... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Incarnations

    Try:
    The Hakawati
    by Rabih Alameddine

  • Ifa Bayeza

    Ifa Bayeza

    Ifa Bayeza is an award-winning playwright, producer, and conceptual theater artist. Her works for the stage include Amistad Voices, Club Harlem, Kid Zero, Homer G & the Rhapsodies, and The Ballad of Emmett Till, winner of the... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Incarnations

    Try:
    Some Sing, Some Cry
    by Ifa Bayeza

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"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives on the fringes."—NPR

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