WE ARE MADE OF DIAMOND STUFF (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2019)

We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff_cover



“There is not a single ordinary sentence in Isabel Waidner’s We Are Made of Diamond Stuff. A novel that reads like an act of sabotage, of resistance, written as a song-scream against our nullifying need to belong. It is charged with undeniable life, like some explosive projectile aimed at all our insidious narratives (nationalism, exclusionary culture, corporatism, conservatism and so much more). You hope it goes off, that it blows open everything in its sights—just so that you may ride out on its wake. It leaves you laughing, breathless but also heartbroken and hopeful, like the spirited survivors in the book itself. Like lightning, this novel. It is a furious work, stuffed with necessary power, purpose and also affection. And to borrow one of its lines to re-articulate it—Like the lypard, it navigates dimensions.”

—Guy Gunaratne, Goldsmiths Prize judge


“Isabel Waidner will save the nation & save our souls.”

—Joanna Walsh


We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff evokes a topsy-turvy, highly animated world to explore a declining empire’s hopelessly fucked up inequities of class, race, queerness, and immigration status. At one point the narrator (who looks like Eleven from Stranger Things but who happens to be 36) blurts out, “Where’s reality, I want to change it.” This is one of the saddest lines I’ve ever read, perfectly rearticulating the “no there there” anxiety that Gertrude Stein attributed to modern life a century ago. In a world in which everything is stacked against them, Isabel Waidner’s resourceful characters survive, not just physically but spiritually as well. Despite their unflinching vision into virulent social practices, they never lose heart.”

—Dodie Bellamy


We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff is an innovative and critically British novel, taking issue with the dream of national belonging. Set on the Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England, it collides literary aesthetics with contemporary working class cultures and attitudes (B.S. Johnson and Reebok classics), works with themes of empire, embodiment and resistance, and interrogates autobiographical material including the queer migrant experience.


Cover art by Linda Stupart.




Selected press:

A queer migrant’s reinvention abroad” by Elsa Court, Financial Times

The Potent Mythology of the English Riviera” by Thom Cuell, Minor Literature[s]

Liberating the Canon: An Interview with Isabel Waidner“, radio talk with Lara Alonso Corona for culture show Suite 212

We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff” at Tank Magazine

WE ARE MADE OF DIAMOND STUFF (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2019)

Queers Read This @ICA

Queers Read This is a literature event series that isn’t boring.’

Queers Read This is an ongoing ICA event series presented by writer Isabel Waidner and artist Richard Porter, celebrating the work of innovative LGBTQI+, Black, POC and working-class writers. The events feature readings of texts which work across intersectional systems of oppression and challenge formal distinctions between prose and poetry or critical and creative writing.

Queers Read This (4) takes place on 7 Nov 2019, 7pm. Themes range from rolling the r’s and queerness in Honolulu (R. Zamora Linmark), feminist healthcare and collective intimacy (Clay AD), the erasure of black writers from the Western 20th century canon (Shola von Reinhold), trannies, tyranny and the end of the world (Alison Rumfitt), queer modern poetry, planes and ocean floors (Richard Porter), and novels in progress (Isabel Waidner).



Queers Read This, audience

Queers Read This @ICA

Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde @ICA

Presented by writer Isabel Waidner at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde was an event interrogating queerness and class in interdisciplinary writing and publishing in the UK, featuring presentations by Mojisola Adebayo, Ray Filar, Roz Kaveney, Huw Lemmey, and Kashif Sharma-Patel, in May 2019.

Departing from a new text by Waidner commissioned by the ICA on the occasion of the I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker exhibition (1 May – 5 August 2019), Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde explored the ongoing marginalisation of interdisciplinary working class, LGBTQI+, Black and POC writers in relation to the historical elitism of the British publishing establishment. The rise of alternative publishing and community-building practices (e.g. The 87 Press, Montez Press, Dostoyevsky Wannabe) which underpin the current moment were also discussed.

Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde“, commissioned essay by Isabel Waidner, Institute of Contemporary Arts

Class, queers and the avant-garde in new British writing with Caspar Heinemann and Isabel Waidner” by Isabel Waidner, AQNB

Review: Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde at the ICA” by Polly Hember, Decorating Dissidence

C,Q & Acqa cover

Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde @ICA

Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature (Waidner, 2018)

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“If there were a literary avant-garde that were relevant now, it would be what the queers and their allies are doing, at the intersections, across disciplines. This avant-garde would be inclusive, racially and culturally diverse, migrants galore, predominately but not exclusively working-class, transdisciplinary, (gender)queer and politically clued up (left).” Isabel Waidner


Liberating the Canon (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018) is an anthology capturing the contemporary emergence of radically innovative and nonconforming literatures in the UK and beyond. Historically, sociopolitical marginalisation and avant-garde aesthetics have not come together in UK literature, counterintuitively divorcing outsider experience and formal innovation. Bringing together intersectional identity and literary innovation, LTC is designed as an intervention against the normativity of literary publishing contexts and the institution ‘Innovative Literature’ as such. More widely, if literature, any literature, can act as a mode of cultural resistance and help imagine a more progressive politics in Tory Britain and beyond, it is this.

Liberating the Canon is edited by Isabel Waidner, and includes contributors working at the intersections of prose, poetry, art, performance, indie publishing and various subcultural contexts: Mojisola Adebayo, Jess Arndt (US), Richard Brammer, Victoria Brown, SJ Fowler, Juliet Jacques, Sara Jaffe (US), Roz Kaveney, R. Zamora Linmark (US), Mira Mattar, Seabright D. Mortimer, Nat Raha, Nisha Ramayya, Rosie Snajdr, Timothy Thornton, Isabel Waidner, Joanna Walsh and Eley Williams.

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This is Publishing and Writing as Borderline Activism” — An Interview With Isabel Waidner by Thom Cuell, Minor Literature[s]

Liberating the Canon: Intersectionality and Innovation in Literature” — Introduction by Isabel Waidner, 3:AM Magazine

Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature (Waidner, 2018)

Gaudy Bauble (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017)

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“I’m besotted with this beguiling, hilarious, rollocking, language-metamorphosing novel. The future of the queer avant-garde is safe with Isabel Waidner.” Olivia Laing


*Gaudy Bauble was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2018*


Gaudy Bauble stages a glittering world populated by GoldSeXUal StatuEttes, anti-drag kings, Gilbert&George-like lesbians, maverick detectives, a transgender army equipped with question-mark-shaped helmets, and birds who have dyke written all over them. Everyone interferes with the plot. No one is in control of the plot. Surprises happen as a matter of course: A faux research process produces actual results. Hundreds of lipstick marks reanimate a dying body. And the Deadwood-to-Dynamo Audience Prize goes to whoever turns deadestwood into dynamost. Gaudy Bauble stages what happens when the disenfranchised are calling the shots. Riff-raff are running the show and they are making a difference.

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Selected reviews:

Toothsome Prose: A round-up of experimental fiction” by Rosie Snajdr, The Times Literary Supplement

Vanguard Collectibles: Isabel Waidner’s Gaudy Bauble” by MH, 3:AM Magazine

Back to the literary future” by Michael Caines, The Times Literary Supplement

Gaudy Bauble (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017)



Isabel Waidner is a writer and critical theorist. Their books include We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff (2019), Gaudy Bauble (2017) and Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature (ed., 2018), published by Dostoyevsky Wannabe. Waidner’s articles, essays and short fictions have appeared in journals including AQNB, 3:AM, Cambridge Literary Review, The Happy Hypocrite, Tank Magazine and Tripwire. They are the co-founder of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and an academic at Roehampton University, London.

Gaudy Bauble was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2018.

Photo by Jacob Love.