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.
On a May morning in 1664, in the small village of Versailles, as hundreds of young aristocrats are coming to pay court to King Louis XIV, a peasant fan-maker gives birth to her first and only child, Marguerite. Determined to give her daughter a better life than the one she herself has lived, the young mother vows to break the newborn’s bonds of poverty and ensure that she fulfills her destiny—to dance with kings. Purely by chance, a drunken nobleman witnesses the birth and makes a reckless promise to return for Marguerite in seventeen years. With those fateful words, events are set into motion that will span three monarchies, affecting the lives of four generations of women.
Marguerite becomes part of the royal court of the Sun King, but her fairy-tale existence is torn out from under her by a change of political winds. Jasmin, Marguerite’s daughter, is born to the life of privilege her grandmother dreamed of, but tempts fate by daring to catch the eye of the king. Violette, Marguerite’s granddaughter, is drawn to the nefarious side of life among the nobles at Versailles. And Rose, Violette’s daughter, becomes a lady-in-waiting and confidante to Marie Antoinette. Through Rose, a love lost generations before will come full circle, even as the ground beneath Versailles begins to rumble with the chaos of the coming revolution.
London: half a century later the ghosts of that time return to haunt Christopher, triggering vivid memories of colonial misconduct and lost love. Forced to confront his past, Christopher agonises over the fate of his beloved Evangeline and the disappearance of their daughter, Frances.
Moving from present day London to the heart of the Malayan jungle in colonial times, THE ORIENTALIST AND THE GHOST is a stunning portrayal of human frailty and lost love.
My name be Ice Cream Fifteen Star and this be the tale of how I bring the cure to all the Nighted States . . .
In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her nomadic tribe live off of the detritus of a crumbled civilization. Theirs is a world of children; before reaching the age of twenty, they all die of a mysterious disease they call Posies—a plague that has killed for generations. There is no medicine, no treatment; only the mysterious rumor of a cure.
When her brother begins showing signs of the disease, Ice Cream Star sets off on a bold journey to find this cure. Led by a stranger, a captured prisoner named Pasha who becomes her devoted protector and friend, Ice Cream Star plunges into the unknown, risking her freedom and ultimately her life. Traveling hundreds of miles across treacherous, unfamiliar territory, she will experience love, heartbreak, cruelty, terror, and betrayal, fighting with her whole heart and soul to protect the only world she has ever known.
Guardian First Book Award finalist Sandra Newman delivers an extraordinary post-apocalyptic literary epic as imaginative as The Passage and as linguistically ambitious as Cloud Atlas. Like Hushpuppy in The Beasts of the Southern Wild grown to adolescence in a landscape as dangerously unpredictable as that of Ready Player One, The Country of Ice Cream Star is a breathtaking work from a writer of rare and unconventional talent.
Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.
But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.
Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window.