Cover image for Wide open
Wide open
Barker, Nicola, 1966-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Hopewell, N.J. : Ecco Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
293 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



As winner of the highly prestigious IMPAC International Dublin Literary Award, Wide Open beat out books by such masters as Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, and Michael Cunningham. It is truly extraordinary work of fiction, taking readers into a small English seaside town, and into the minds and hearts of its remarkable inhabitants -- a man named Ronny, weed killer by trade, who has some strange things in common with a man he finds dangling from a brid‚Č• Nathan, the son of a pedophile, who toils in the Underground's Lost Property department, endlessly logging missing items; Sara, purveyor of her family boar farm, and Lily, her teenage daughter, tragically born with unformed organs and blood that refuses to clot. Starkly original and at turns hilarious, sad, and hopeful, Wide Open brilliantly displays Nicola Barker's delightfully singular literary talent.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Barker is a young, award-winning English writer barely known here (her Love Your Enemies is nominally available from Faber), who has now been taken on by enterprising Ecco. She is a highly offbeat writer, weaving a strange tale of abandonment and redemption around a set of eccentric characters brought together on a bleak stretch of the Thames estuary called the Isle of Sheppey. There is Ronny (later to change his name to Jim), who comes across another Ronny dangling from a bridge over a highway while he is driving to his work spraying weed killer. Ronny 1 (Jim) finds this stranger knows his brother Nathan, who works in the Underground Lost Property Office. Out at Sheppey is Ronny 1's neighbor Sara, who runs a boar farm; Luke, a pornographic photographer who is trying to stop smoking and drinking in this remote seaside place; Sara's noisy, strung-out daughter Lily; and Sara's niece, optician Connie, who comes to visit. These odd, damaged people are presented with tenderness and humor, their baffling and often outrageous interactions chronicled with benign acceptance; and eventually they achieve a sort of uneasy, hard-won peace in the death of Ronny 2 and the unraveling of an old family secret. What keeps the reader engaged among the murky goings-on is the ever alert and highly original style Barker employs, full of vivid images and little explosions of recognition; there is a poetic sensibility at work among these extremely prosy characters. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved