Posted on 15th July 2015

Posted by Sophie

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Reviews: The Incarnations by Susan Barker

SusanBarker_Jacket“A thrilling journey through a thousand years of obsession and betrayal, this is the most extraordinary work of imagination you’ll read all year.” Adam Johnson,  Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Orphan Master’s Son

“An extraordinary novel. Erudite, intriguing and compulsively readable, The Incarnations takes the reader on an intimate and mesmerizing journey through Chinese history. Susan Barker, a born storyteller, has written one of the most remarkable novels of recent years.”  John Boyne

“A brilliant, mind-expanding and wildly original novel – it took me on a journey of a thousand years and delivered me back with all my polarities reversed.”  Chris Cleave

“Barker has that rare contortionistic imagination possessed only by the finest Chinese literary legends such as Wu Cheng’en and Yu Hua… China is alive and deeply soulful under Barker’s knowing pen, making me want to revisit this mystic land of much enchantment.” Da Chen, New York Times bestselling author of Colors of Mountains and Brothers





The Incarnations by Susan Barker review – multilayered and masterful

Carol Birch, The Guardian, 13/08/14

“It isn’t necessary to believe in reincarnation to appreciate this book. It may all be neurotic fantasy, but as a device for forcing the reader to look closely and ponder deeply, it works beautifully.”

“Susan Barker delivers a masterful ending. This would have been a good book if it had simply recounted a series of bizarre tales and stopped, but a bittersweet final revelation poses more questions, reveals deeper dimensions and sends the reader back to the beginning searching for clues missed the first time round.


The Incarnations by Susan Barker, book review: Exploring 1,000 years of Chinese history

Edward Wilson, The Independent, 10/07/14

“The Incarnations’ reads as China’s Midnight’s Children. An utterly remarkable novel, it is certainly a very different book from Rushdie’s, but just as important in its historical and cultural sweep. Barker’s storytelling is lively and addictive despite the bleakness of her histories. She has an eye for the absurd and darkly comic.”


Book Review: The Incarnations by Susan Barker

Jeremiah, Jottings from the Granite Studio, 21/8/2014

“How many lifetimes does it take for two souls to truly bond? Susan Barker’s remarkable book The Incarnations is a time-bending fantasy with an unknown (and possible unreliable) narrator sweeping us down the rabbit hole of history.”


The Incarnations by Susan Barker

Rosie Milne, Asian Review of Books, 1/9/2014

“Barker conveys a compelling sense of place; sometimes you can smell the street food cooking.”


Video review by Time Out Bookstore NZ 



Past lives haunt Beijinger in intriguing novel

Kate Whitehead, The South China Morning Post, 06/07/14

“British writer Susan Barker’s remarkable new novel is ambitious in scope, scholarly in depth and absolutely riveting.

Part history, part love story, with good doses of horror, comedy and philosophy, it is ultimately a thriller and a page-turner. In less capable hands, such a daring undertaking could so easily have flopped, but Barker has polished it well and the reader never so much as glimpses the cracks in the magic that is fiction writing.”


Sydney Morning Herald


“Barker resembles David Mitchell in the ability to weave together past and present in a convincing, and ultimately intriguing, manner.”


The Incarnations: The past is never dead

Aelred Doyle, That’s Shanghai/ Beijing/ PRD, 11/07/14

“This is a beautifully structured novel, and the interspersed letters describing previous lives are engrossing and sharp. These past lives are too real to feel like mere metaphor. Cruelty, betrayal and slavery reoccur over the centuries, and are echoed in Wang’s modern life.

The prose is light and often witty, and the characterization is one of the book’s most impressive aspects… This is an extremely satisfying and intelligent book”

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