Idiopathy

Sam Byers

Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel award 2013, this bitterly humorous debut is a novel of love, narcissism, and ailing cattle.

Katherine and Daniel used to be together. Now Katherine hates everyone, but not as much as she hates herself, while Daniel tells his new girlfriend he loves her, because not telling her would be like telling her he doesn’t love her.

From out of the blue comes a message from their old friend, rehabilitated party animal Nathan – now adjusting to his mother’s new career as a misery memoirist, her tales of maternal hardships the stuff of Twitter superstardom.

Nathan suggests a reunion, but with the bad blood flowing like cheap wine, it can’t end well. As a bovine plague sweeps across the nation, a toxic dinner party gets underway – its atmosphere so poisonous that none of them will escape infection …

Reviews of Idiopathy

    • ‘A savagely brilliant novel … Brimming with comic brio and nuanced psychological insight, ‘Idiopathy’ signals the arrival of an exciting new talent … If ‘Idiopathy’ was half as fun to write as it is to read I suspect Mr Byers found some happiness along the way.’ David Annand, Sunday Telegraph
    • ‘Brilliant … a mordantly riveting first novel about what it’s like to be a thirtysomething.’ John Lanchester, Observer
    • ‘Laced with satirical verve . . . this is a savagely funny debut from a gifted, cynical new voice.’ Joseph Charlton, FT
    • ‘Will make you purr with delight. It’s well observed, light on its feet and never less than entertaining, with elegant ruminations on sex, love and loneliness that offset by some sublime comic riffs on the state of the nation.’ Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler
    • ‘Scabrously funny, beadily vigilant and often piercingly perceptive … it’s hard to fault the enthusiasm with which Byers goes about his task, or the vicious wit he brings to it.’ Trevor Lewis, Sunday Times
    • ‘Page by page, an almost indecently entertaining book. Byers goes beyond being merely a talented comic novelist … insights bring the deeper laughs – and they are what allow him to turn the corner, as the novel reaches its climax, into something altogether more poignant and more serious.’ Sam Leith, TLS
    • ‘Brimming with comic brio and nuanced psychological insight , Sam Byers’s first novel, “Idiopathy”, signals the arrival of a new talent.’ Telegraph
    • ‘Even as Idiopathy threatens to become an emotional abattoir, Byers’s prose remains spreadsheet-specific, mock analytical, funny . . . [Byers] has taken a laudable risk in turning his Bovarys bovine and Kareninas sheepish.’ Joshua Cohen, The New York Times Book Review
    • ‘Byers has a quicksilver prose style and an easy, unlabored way of getting his point across . . . A sad, poignant and funny debut, deeply relatable and replete with promise for the author’s future.’ Time Out New York (4 out of 5 stars)

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