Sterling Beckenbauer is plunged into a terrifying and nonsensical world one morning when they are attacked, then unfairly arrested, in their neighborhood in London. With the help of their friends, Sterling hosts a trial of their own in order to exonerate themselves and to hold the powers that be to account.
Waidner grounds their surrealism in the history of England’s bigotry against queer people and immigrants; in the ideas and images of other writers, artists and musicians; and in recognizable sci-fi tropes ... 'What it’s like to exist on someone else’s terms? In someone else’s violent fiction?' If Sterling Karat Gold is a novel-length answer to these queries, it’s also an assertive repudiation of a world in which such questions must exist. That Waidner delivers such moral clarity with nonstop wit and invention makes their novel not just an admirable achievement but a pleasure to read.
A seditious headrush of a book; a fresh and provocative act of resistance to our morally slippery times. It’s endlessly associative, bursting with ribaldry and Tory-baiting satire ... an effervescent, supra-subversive adventure, held together (just) by a tenuous dream logic that is constantly surprising and delicious in its humour ... If the antic energy feels occasionally overheated, Waidner demonstrates they can effortlessly change gear, wrongfooting the reader with the starkly serious ... While Sterling Karat Gold’s imaginative afflatus is as confidently sustained as its predecessor, it adds an extra layer of satirical bite with its shocking ending.
Isabel Waidner’s third novel... takes its cue from Franz Kafka to portray, in sharp-edged prose, institutional violence and non-conformist resistance ... Sterling Karat Gold is not an easy read: it isn’t meant to be. Waidner is subverting conventions on behalf of the marginalized. The result is as impressive in its execution as it is urgent in its themes.