From the Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of Darkmans comes a comic epistolary novel of startling originality and wit.
Reading other people's letters is always a guilty pleasure. But for PC Roger Topping contemplating a cache of 27 undelivered missives, retrieved from a back alley in Skipton, it's a job of work. The quaint village of Burley Cross has been plunged into turmoil by the theft of the contents of its postbox, and no-one is above suspicion.
Yet Topping's investigation into the curtain-twitching lives of the eminently respectable Burley Cross residents not only uncovers the dark underbelly of his beat, but reveals a hitherto unknown strength of character buried deep within the young flatfoot.
The denizens of Burley Cross inhabit a world of epic pettiness, where secrets are the currency. From complaints about dog shit to passive-aggressive fanmail, from biblical amateur dramatics to an Auction of Promises that goes staggeringly wrong, Nicola Barker's epistolary novel is a work of immense comic range. Irresistibly mischievous, Burley Cross Postbox Theft is Alan Bennett with added Tamiflu, sex-therapy and cheap vodka.
Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She lives and works in east London. She was the winner of the David Higham Prize for Fiction and joint winner of the Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Love Your Enemies, her first collection of stories (1993). Her first novel Reversed Forecast was published in 1994 and a short novel Small Holdings followed in 1995. A second collection of short stories Heading Inland, for which Nicola received an Arts Council Writers' Award, and received the 1997 John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. Her story `Symbiosis' was filmed and broadcast on BBC2; another story, `Dual Balls', was commissioned for broadcast on Channel 4 and shortlisted for a BAFTA Award. Her third novel Wide Open was published in 1998, and won the English-speaking world's biggest literary award for a single work, the IMPAC Prize. In 2000 she published another short novel, Five Miles from Outer Hope. Her fifth novel, Behindlings, was published in 2002 and the following novel, Clear, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. Darkmans, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2007, the 2008 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Award and won the Hawthornden Prize for 2008. Most recently, Barker's work THE YIPS has been longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2012. She was named as one of the 20 Best Young British Novelists by Granta in 2005. Her work has been translated into over a dozen languages.