Married; husband's name James; children: Gabriel.
Home—Brighton, England. Agent—Jonny Gellar, Curtis Brown Ltd., Haymarket House, 28-29 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP, England.
Columnist, travel writer, and novelist.
Best New Talent, W. H. Smith Literary Awards, 2002.
Backpack, Hodder Headline (London, England), 2001.
Baggage, Hodder Headline (London, England), 2003.
Cuban Heels, Hodder Headline (London, England), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including Guardian and Observer.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A fourth novel.
Travel writer Emily Barr wrote her debut novel Backpack, which became a bestseller in England, after returning from her own trip around the world. Booklist's Beth Warrell wrote that Barr "mixes many elements—adventure, romance, mystery—and successfully juggles them in a fast-paced and enjoyable tale."
The story is about Tansy Harris, a beautiful, blonde journalist living the good life in London, who has a couple of reasons for dropping out for a while. Her alcoholic mother has died, which, in a sense, frees Tansy, and her boyfriend Tom backs out of their planned trip together. She goes by herself, feeling that the trip will give her a chance to meditate, do her yoga, and wrestle with her own addictions to alcohol and drugs, particularly cocaine.
Tansy has a romantic picture of what the countries on her trip will be like, but those expectations are shattered when she visits such places as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and China. Amelia Morrey wrote in New Statesman that "seen through Tansy's eyes, everything is ugly, boring, and dirty. Barr might be making a point about the vulgarities of the new travellers, but it is hard to sympathise with such a self-important, intolerant protagonist." In her disappointment and loneliness, Tansy becomes friends with a group of backpackers she had initially found lacking in style. She also finds love with the generous and caring Max, who is very unlike her selfish boyfriend back in London.
Time International's Bryan Walsh wrote that Barr "loads Backpack with enough neurotic angst to fill a season's worth of Ally McBeal. " Walsh called the subplot, a series of murders of blonde backpackers in the cities on Tansy's itinerary, "a diversion from a suddenly at-one-with-Asia Tansy looking down upon the 'tourists' in Bangkok or musing with unconscious irony upon 'deluded Westerners' at the base of Mount Everest."
A Kirkus Reviews contributor characterized the story as "the ever-churning mind of a bright and rebellious woman in flux." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote, "Caustically hilarious and entertaining, the novel carries emotional impact without schmaltz and rises above the usual Britpop fluff. Barr's is a welcome new voice."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2001, Beth Warrell, review of Backpack, p. 550.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2001, review of Backpack, p. 1563; November 15, 2002, review of Baggage, p. 1635.
Library Journal, January, 2003, Karen Core, review of Baggage, p. 151.
New Statesman, February 19, 2001, Amelia Morrey, "Home Bird," p. 51.
Publishers Weekly, November 5, 2001, review of Backpack, p. 39; January 13, 2003, review of Baggage, p. 43.
Time International, February 4, 2002, Bryan Walsh, "Traveling Lite: Emily Barr's Backpack Is a Jaded Take on Asia's Travelers' Circuit," p. 55.
Washington Post Book World, February 10, 2002, "Roughing It," p. T07.
Emily Barr Web site,http://authorpages.hoddersystems.com/EmilyBarr (September 30, 2003).*