Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths prize, this innovative state-of-the-nation novel shows razor-sharp wit and rage Isabel Waidner’s Goldsmiths prize-shortlisted second novel is a dizzying 113-page disquisition on working-class culture, queerness, race and vanished empire. Set largely in a “no-star hotel” in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, it crackles with sly subversive wit and rage at the inequities of life in contemporary Britain. In a series of surreal episodes, the unnamed narrator, who we are told is an “EU national”, and Shae, described as “a second-generation economic migrant”, endure minimum-wage work at the hotel, while joyously revelling in their otherness. Shae is “working class and also queer (there’s no hiding it)”. They (as Shae, the narrator and Waidner all prefer to be identified) are “looking for their parent”, while the narrator is preparing to take the Life in the UK test, an ordeal replete with trick questions (“Who wrote ‘The Daffodil?’”).
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