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Pat Barker

(b. 1943)


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(1943– ),

British novelist, born in Thornaby‐on‐Tees, north Yorkshire, educated at the London School of Economics. Her first novel, Union Street (1982), an episodic account of the lives of seven working‐class neighbours, partly recalled the northern realist novels of Barstow and Sillitoe, but Barker's main characters were women. Leavening the occasional brutalism of her narratives with generosity and flashes of humour, Barker gave the novel a unique texture. Her next two novels were Blow Your House Down (1984), in which a group of prostitutes attempt to eke out their livelihood in fear of a serial killer, and The Century's Daughter (1986), an ambitious alternative history of the 20th cent. The Man Who Wasn't There (1989) concerns a daydreaming, fatherless teenager growing up in the 1950s, but her real breakthrough came with the First World War trilogy beginning with Regeneration (1991), based on an encounter between Sassoon and the psychologist Dr William Rivers at Craiglockhart War Hospital in 1917, and continued with The Eye in the Door (1993) and The Ghost Road (1995, Booker Prize), which follow the fortunes of bisexual soldier Billy Prior. The trilogy has a tragic grandeur and rigorous lack of sentimentality. War also haunts Another World (1998) and Double Vision (2003). Border Crossing (2001) explores the relationship between a psychologist and a young man who had committed murder as a child.

Subjects: Literature.


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