This bitterly humorous debut is a novel of love, narcissism, and ailing cattle. Katherine has given up trying to be happy. Her cynical wit repels the people she wants to attract, and attracts the people she knows she should repel. Her ex Daniel, meanwhile, isn’t sure that he loves his new girlfriend. But somehow not telling her he loves her has become synonymous with telling her that he doesn’t love her, meaning that he has to tell her he loves her just to maintain the status quo.
When their former friend Nathan returns from a stint in a psychiatric ward to find that his mother has transformed herself into best-selling author and Twitter sensation ‘Mother Courage’ – Katherine, Daniel and Nathan decide to meet to heal old wounds. But will a reunion end well? Almost certainly not. Both scathing invective on a self-obsessed generation and moving account of love and loneliness, Idiopathy skewers everything from militant environmentalists to self-help quackery and announces the arrival of a savagely funny talent.
‘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)
‘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)
‘A howling dig at cultural myopia.’ (Catherine Taylor, Guardian)
‘Who knows what caused this hilarious, observant, and provocative novel, but I’m glad it happened. Sam Byers exhibits serious talent in his debut.’ (Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask)
‘Idiopathy made me feel even WORSE about my generation, all while laughing hysterically, busting my gut, going to the hospital. It also features a delightful protagonist and the unexplainable British town of Norwich.’ (Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story)
‘Witty, well observed, cynical, tender. One of the best contemporary novels I've read in ages.’ (Sam Mills, author of The Quiddity of Will Self)
‘Clearly a writer to watch.’ (Will Skidelsky, Observer)
‘Fresh and confident … Byers might have to get used to the attention.’ (Sameer Rahin, Daily Telegraph)
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This story makes me annoyed.
Dialogue was too realistic for characters that aren't realistic enough! An awful infuriating female protagonist with no redeeming features (in my opinion) and quite unlikely that anyone could be with her for so long. A protagonist doesn't need to be likable, however the dialogue does at least need to have purpose. The arguments between the central couple went round in circles, not really making sense. And rather than reaching any kind of conclusion, they petered off, leaving me wondering what the point of including it in the story was. And leaving me annoyed at having experienced such a stupid argument.My other criticism is that the plot takes an age to unfold, without much payoff and it doesn't feel like it should have. Action and plot that could have been done with in 4 chapters or so, takes the majority of the book. I am disappointed, as I was looking forward to this book coming out, and enjoyed the sample and blurb!
Good overall performance
It made me want to throw things.
There are plenty of other books about relationships with fallible but redeeming characters out there.