The Cauliflower®

Nicola Barker

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The Cauliflower®

The Cauliflower From Man Booker shortlisted IMPAC Award winning author Nicola Barker comes an exuberant multi voiced new novel mapping the extraordinary life and legacy of a th century Hindu saintHe is only four

  • Title: The Cauliflower®
  • Author: Nicola Barker
  • ISBN: 9781785150661
  • Page: 242
  • Format: Hardcover
  • From Man Booker shortlisted, IMPAC Award winning author Nicola Barker comes an exuberant, multi voiced new novel mapping the extraordinary life and legacy of a 19th century Hindu saintHe is only four years older, but still I call him Uncle, and when I am with Uncle I have complete faith in him I would die for Uncle I have an indescribable attraction towards Uncle From Man Booker shortlisted, IMPAC Award winning author Nicola Barker comes an exuberant, multi voiced new novel mapping the extraordinary life and legacy of a 19th century Hindu saintHe is only four years older, but still I call him Uncle, and when I am with Uncle I have complete faith in him I would die for Uncle I have an indescribable attraction towards Uncle It was ever thus.To the world, he is Sri Ramakrishna godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, beloved guru who would prefer not to be called a guru , irresistible charmer To Rani Rashmoni, she of low caste and large inheritance, he is the brahmin fated to defy tradition and preside over the temple she dares to build, six miles north of Calcutta, along the banks of the Hooghly for Ma Kali, goddess of destruction But to Hriday, his nephew and longtime caretaker, he is just Uncle maddening, bewildering Uncle, prone to entering ecstatic trances at the most inconvenient of times, known to sneak out to the forest at midnight to perform dangerous acts of self effacement, who must be vigilantly safeguarded not only against jealous enemies and devotees with ulterior motives, but also against that most treasured yet insidious of sulfur rich vegetables the cauliflower.Rather than puzzling the shards of history and legend together, Barker shatters the mirror again and rearranges the pieces The result is a biographical novel viewed through a kaleidoscope Dazzlingly inventive and brilliantly comic, irreverent and mischievous, The Cauliflower delivers us into the divine playfulness of a 21st century literary master.

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      242 Nicola Barker
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      Posted by:Nicola Barker
      Published :2018-07-07T20:21:14+00:00

    One thought on “The Cauliflower®

    1. Dannii Elle on said:

      The Cauliflower is, in short, the biographical account of the life of Sri Ramakrishna. The reality is that this is so much more than that! The book is divided into short sections, varying from a few words to a few pages, with no apparent chronological or discernible order to them. Some of these sections are nothing but a haiku, some are a set of questions about the life of the enigma and some are fragmented scenes, from various perspectives, from the life of the great spiritual master. When piec [...]

    2. Rebecca Foster on said:

      Put simply, this is a fictionalized biography of the largely illiterate Hindu guru Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886). That may sound dry as dust, but Barker makes it a playful delight by skipping around in time and interspersing aphorisms, imagined film scenes, questions and answers, and even a recipe with the narrative chapters. Indeed, she teasingly refers to herself as the book’s collagist. The kernel of the story – set in 1857 at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, six miles north of Calcutta – [...]

    3. Marc Nash on said:

      I read just over half of this and then gave up. A book about a Hindu mystic & saint, written by a Westerner who is not Hindu. A book that part relies on the Japanese form of Haiku to tell a story about India, a cultural mash-up too far in my humble opinion. It is well researched but reads inauthentically. Perhaps that's why the author opted for a non-linear 'experimental' approach, but that only erodes any notion of spirituality which is after all its quest. An attempt to describe the ineffa [...]

    4. Aisling on said:

      Don't give up on this book and don't rush to judgement. After all, if you meet a man who is supposed to be a Hindu holy man you might have the same reaction; looking at one thing may horrify you, but the next might change your mind. Indian mystics are notorious for being a little beyond the average Westerners' comprehension.But that is why Barker has written a really amazing book. You may find the author irreverent, flippant, jarring and annoyingly non linear but then consider the man she is att [...]

    5. Doug on said:

      When the supposedly encouraging blurbs from the critics on the back cover state that the book in question is both 'frustrating' and 'overlong', it's best to take heed. I am not sure what to make of this odd, sui generis book - even the author (in the afterward) claims it is not quite a novel, more of a mosaic. The book, in various vignettes, haikus, quotations from Song of Solomon, etc presented non-chronologically, tells the biography of real life mid-19th century mystic guru Sri Ramakrishna, w [...]

    6. Rebecca on said:

      The Cauliflower is historical fiction completely unlike you know it (in fact I'm rather disappointed that that's how my library decided to categorise it). Barker re-imagines the story of an Indian saint in a way that completely fits with his paradoxical life. It's riotous fun and definitely achieves the author's aim, namely to "attempt to understand how faith works, how a legacy develops, how a spiritual history is written." Also, it has a further reading list at the end, and that always makes m [...]

    7. Nadine on said:

      A book that is as mischievous, erratic, slippery, charming and cringe-inducing as its main character, Sri Ramakrishna. The story is mostly told by his nephew Hridayram, his doting but long-suffering dogsbody, although we also see SR through the eyes of his patrons and entourage, and hear from Westerners who have met him (SR was a real person - the author draws from eye-witness accounts and provides a bibliography in the Afterward.) You will wonder where the cauliflower is for most of the book. A [...]

    8. Erin Cataldi on said:

      This is not an easy book to review, not by a long shot. There are no chapters, a cast of ever-changing characters and side stories, and an almost gleeful air of frivolity. Even though I don't quite know what to think of it, I'm giving it a solid 4 because it is ingenious and wonderfully written. Following the life of the hindu guru/saint, Sri Ramakrishna told through many perspectives, stages, of life, and experiences, the story is weaved together with an omniscient narrator (ie a humorous autho [...]

    9. Rian Nejar on said:

      I have little to say, and enclose what I do say in a virtual wrapper for those who may wish to skip it. Historically, psychologically, intriguing. (view spoiler)[Disappointing. Scatter-brained: the timeline (not followed!) is disorienting. Cliche'd, as for instance, "His records. Indicate. Little. Else" Incomprehensible. The most contrived of styles, compelling rapid page skipping. Not for readers seeking a pleasant read, or enlightenment.(hide spoiler)]A First Reads book received free and revi [...]

    10. Peter Upton on said:

      This was a well researched book that definitely would have been a five star book if it had kept to chronological order. The way it jumped backwards and forwards in time stopped me from feeling any sense of attachment to it for the first 70 pages. After this the people and events started to fall into place. After completing the book I went back and read the first 70 pages again and this time they were fine and made sense because I had now read the rest of the book and I suspect that, because the [...]

    11. Mandy on said:

      I gave it my best shot. Got about half way through before I admitted defeat. I always feel a moral obligation to finish books that I have been kindly granted by NetGalley, but on this occasion I was gradually losing the will to live. It’s all very clever, I suppose, but I just couldn’t engage with this discursive, rambling narrative about a Hindu guru. Not for me, this one.

    12. Vijayalakshmi on said:

      The book, a fictionalized biography of the eccentric Indian saint Sri Ramakrishna (better known to the West as the Guru of Swami Vivekananda), turns the concept of a historical novel on its head. It does away with the traditional trappings of the genre, and becomes a weird kaleidoscope instead.One of the narrators is the writer herself, and the other is Sri Ramakrishna’s nephew, Hridayram. These two voices carry us on a random, almost stream of consciousness journey through time and space. The [...]

    13. Fran on said:

      Sri Ramakrishna was born near Calcutta to a poor Brahmin family, however, he is arguably the best known 19th century Indian saint. His life was one of enigmas. He was sage but wouldn't read, simple and naive, intense and focused on spiritual matters, and had a child-like vision of the world. Using a historical biographical form author Nicola Barker's novel "The Cauliflower" presents snapshots of the guru's life.Hriday, nephew of Sri Ramakrishna as narrator of the novel, describes his devotion an [...]

    14. Brian Rothbart on said:

      “The Cauliflower” the new novel by Nicola Barker is the fictional biography of Sri Ramakrishna. This was a very entertaining book. It is bizarre at times, as is custom with Barker’s work, but I found it so funny and insightful. It jumps around a lot, but I really liked this book. If you haven’t read anything by Barker or you enjoy spirituality, Eastern Religion and or reading about India then I recommend you check out this funny, insightful wonderful novel.

    15. Beth on said:

      Quirky, stylistically unique and varied, the author combines fact with fiction in her attempt to understand the development of spirituality, how it gains momentum and becomes a part of a culture. Barker uses the Guru, Sri Ramakrishna, as her vehicle for examining this subject. The narrative is not dry and dour, but a fresh and inventive approach to a complex issue.

    16. lisa on said:

      This was a bizarre book, and I hesitate to call it a novel, or even much of a story. It's a collection of myths of Sri Ramakrishna, the saint of Dakshiniswar temple from the 1800s. Interspersed with the retelling of his legends are some haikus about him (that I assume are written by the author) and some quotes from Song of Solomon, and some random flights of fancy from the author (including a literal flight that goes on for TEN PAGES where she imagines she fixes a tiny camera to a swift and watc [...]

    17. Eims on said:

      This book was actually picked for me by somebody else. I wanted to like it, it has an interesting style, parts of it are wonderfully funny but that wasn't enough. It's been well received. It was too choppy for me, coming across discoherent (which I'm aware is possibly the point). I struggled to stay involved with the characters and the story. I finished it as a point, more than out of enjoyment. I found it frustrating (a bit like the guru himself, no doubt) Personally, just not for me and I woul [...]

    18. Vanessa on said:

      This book started out so strongly, but I struggled to finish it and honestly was just skimming by the end. The interesting characters and nonlinear style carried me halfway through, but the lack of coherent plot ultimately made this book a disappointment. Still, Kali Ma as a major character? I'm going to call that a win.eloesh/wp-content/uplo

    19. Pamela Arya on said:

      A fantastical novel about the life of guru who founded the Hari Krishna sect. So riveting and convincing, I could not believe that the author had never visited India. Very magical and spiritual.

    20. Sufie Berger on said:

      Very difficult to keep up with so much details!! I love that it’s so exotic. Story and plot not so easy to follow.

    21. Nirnaya on said:

      Irreverent, quirky, fluid- this is a fine example of artistic licence taking flight. I quite enjoyed reading this book.

    22. Amy on said:

      Haiku, vignettes and letters all exploring the patchwork life of Sri Ramakrishna. Thought the book's structure did a sly job of mirroring the charming and infuriating character of Uncle, though it made for a tricksy read. I'm of the opinion that Nicola Barker can get away with anything, and I had fun with this one.

    23. Angie on said:

      Thanks so much to William Heinemann for making proofs of this novel available to booksellers.For the first 40 pages or so, I thought it was going to be brilliant, but shortly thereafter it turned into a bit of a slog. Parts of it reminded me strongly of Midnight's Children, in a good way, since I usually cite that as my favourite novel of all-time, but other parts read more like a entryblah blah bland. It became too disjointed, felt a bit 'tossed together' by about midway through, far from refi [...]

    24. Rama on said:

      A provocative view of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Author Nicola Barker has written over 15 books, mainly fictional in nature that includes; Darkmans, The Yips: A Novel, Wide Open: A Novel, and few others. She widely uses strange imagination in her fictional narratives, and some of her books describes eccentric men in odd settings. In this book, she writes about the “odd” behavior of Ramakrishna, a Hindu spiritual leader who inspired Swami Vivekananda and host of modern Vedantins who created the [...]

    25. Ryan Fields on said:

      There were several times in the first 100 pages that I wondered if I should finish this book. I did, and that turned out to be a good thing. I teach history to high school freshmen and have always been fascinated by religious conflict and similarities between religions. As I read The Cauliflower, I was reminded of Christian figures who bore some of the same traits as Sri Ramakrishna: Jesus’ nonchalance in performing miracles; St. Francis and Brother Lawrence’s ability to see God in the ordin [...]

    26. Maria Beltrami on said:

      Alla fine dell'ottocento visse in India un santone, uno dei tanti, si potrebbe dire, che quella terra intrisa di misticismo sforna a profusione, se non che questo individuo, a differenza di quasi tutti gli altri, invece di trovare dio attraverso le scritture, lo andava cercando attraverso un rapporto personale, spesso apparendo, agli occhi delle persone normali, niente più che un pazzo furioso. Questo santo pazzo, o pazzo santo che dir si voglia, è tutt'ora conosciuto come Sri Ramakrishna, e q [...]

    27. Julie on said:

      Not this time. Not in this telling. Not here. Not with sugar. Not so far as we are aware. No. The story of Sri Ramakrishna started with salt. SaltWhat I expected:It was the description that enticed me! I expected something that was a bit different, with an Indian twist, to add a different edge, seeing as it was about an Indian guru.What it was:I will say here and now that, sadly, it did not meet my expectations. It was a mishmash of a supposed historical story, mixed in with fantastical scenes i [...]

    28. Ally on said:

      This story rather resembles a cauliflower - told in sections and nodes. Each node is a vignette in the life of Sri Ramakrishna, a historical and spiritual figure born in 1836 in West Bengal, India. Through the vignettes, the reader gains an understanding of this man, through actual and imagined interactions with those around Ramakrishna. The vignettes are not always presented in chronological order, so some overlap of events occurs. This wasn't deal-breaker for me, but it did make for a challeng [...]

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