Sterling Karat Gold
Sterling is arrested one morning without having done anything wrong. Plunged into a terrifying and nonsensical world, Sterling – with the help of their three best friends – must defy bullfighters, football players and spaceships in order to exonerate themselves and to hold the powers that be to account.
'Sterling Karat Gold' is Kafka’s The Trial written for the era of gaslighting – a surreal inquiry into the real effects of state violence on gender-nonconforming, working-class and black bodies.
Following the Goldsmiths Prize–nominated 'We Are Made of Diamond Stuff', Isabel Waidner’s latest novel proposes community, inventiveness and the stubborn refusal to lie low as antidotes against marginalisation and towards better futures.
About the author
Isabel Waidner is the author of three novels: 'Sterling Karat Gold' (2021), 'We Are Made of Diamond Stuff' (2019) and 'Gaudy Bauble' (2017). They were shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize (twice), and won the Internationale Literaturpreis. They are a co-founder of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, and the programmer and presenter of This Isn’t a Dream, a fortnightly literary talk show, also hosted by the ICA via Instagram live. Waidner is an academic at Queen Mary University of London.
The judges on the shortlist
Kamila Shamsie on 'Sterling Karat Gold'
Isabel Waidner collides the real and the mythic, the beautiful and the grotesque, to mind-bending effect. Time-travel constrained by the limitations of Google Maps and trials out of Hieronymus Bosch never out-dazzle the human heart in this novel of friendship, art, injustice and all that can be imagined and unimagined. From the first page, matadors in Camden seem entirely plausible and we wait to see what might be coming around the next corner. Waidner has a live, distinctive intelligence that pushes form to make us see the world around us in new ways and perhaps even for the first time.