Queen Mary University of London: Queen Mary’s Isabel Waidner wins Goldsmiths Prize

Sterling Karat Gold is the second of Dr Waidner’s books to be shortlisted for the £10,000 prize – We Are Made of Diamond Stuff was a finalist in 2019.

The book is described as ‘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.’

Sterling, the novel’s main character, 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.

Dr Isabel Waidner of Queen Mary’s School of English and Drama said: “I still can’t believe it. I thought they said the wrong name! It feels absolutely brilliant.

“I’m a non-traditional writer, meaning I don’t necessarily have the kind of access that more privileged writers have as a matter of course.

“Winning this prize will help me reach readers who otherwise might not come across my work.”

Judge Kamila Shamsie said: “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.

This year’s Goldsmiths Prize judging panel comprised writers Nell Stevens, Fred D’Aguiar, Kamila Shamsie, and Johanna Thomas-Corr.

Launched in 2013, the Goldsmiths Prize rewards fiction that breaks the mould and extends the possibilities of the novel form.

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