From Man Booker-shortlisted, IMPAC Award-winning author Nicola Barker comes an exuberant, multivoiced new novel mapping the extraordinary life and legacy of a 19th-century Hindu saint.
To the world he is Sri Ramakrishna - godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, beloved guru. To Rani Rashmoni, she of low caste and large inheritance, he is the Brahmin fated to defy tradition. But to Hriday, his nephew and longtime caretaker, he is just Uncle - maddening, bewildering Uncle, prone to entering trances at the most inconvenient of times, known to sneak out to the forest at midnight to perform dangerous acts of self-effacement, who must be vigilantly safeguarded not only against jealous enemies and devotees with ulterior motives but also against that most treasured yet insidious of sulfur-rich vegetables: the cauliflower.
Rather than puzzling the shards of history and legend together, Barker shatters the mirror again and rearranges the pieces. The result is a biographical novel viewed through a kaleidoscope. Dazzlingly inventive and brilliantly comic, irreverent, and mischievous, The Cauliflower delivers us into the divine playfulness of a 21st-century literary master.
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Maybe Nicola Barker just isn't meant for audiobook
I don't know anyone else who likes Nicola Barker--she certainly seems to be a "love her or hate her" kind of author. I wondered how her writing would translate into audiobook and the answer, I think, is maybe not that well. While I am a fan of Nicola Barker's, I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as Clear or Darkman's.
The story doesn't take place in Britain but is otherwise pure Nicola Barker with lots of "meta" and plenty of odd starts and stops. Things that go over well in the written world, or at least don't drive you batty, don't necessarily translate well into audio. For instance, when we're told that Sri Ramakirshna's name must always be accompanied by the sound of a clown's horn (pa-pa!), it's not that big of a deal to read "pa-pa!" every few paragraphs. But listening to it being said over and over again, even if only for the duration of a few pages, is kind of maddening.