Susan Barker: Biography

Susan Barker

Susan Barker is a British author of three novels, Sayonara Bar (2005), The Orientalist and the Ghost (2008), and The Incarnations (2014). All were published by Doubleday. The Incarnations was a New York Times Notable Book of 2015 for Fiction and Poetry, and a Kirkus Reviews Top 10 Book of 2015 for Literary Fiction. It was longlisted for the IMPAC International Dublin Literary Award. Her other two novels were longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, a leading prize for young authors. Sayonara Bar was also shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award (2006).

Susan Barker was raised in East London. Her father is English and her mother is Chinese-Malaysian. She studied philosophy at Leeds University and attended the graduate writing programme at Manchester University. In 2010-2012 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Leeds Trinity University.

Barker’s novels are centered around Asia. Sayonara Bar provides a glimpse of the darker aspects of life in Kansai. It has elements of a crime story, science fiction fantasy, and social commentary. The Orientalist and the Ghost takes place in both London and Malaya, and examines human frailty. The Incarnations is about a taxi driver in Beijing whose past incarnations from over 1,000 years prior haunt him via letters from an unknown soulmate. The book brings together the folklore, history and literary classics of China.

In 2007, Susan Barker moved to Beijing because of both her ancestral connection to China and out of her desire for research material for The Incarnations. Since then she has resided both in the US and the UK.