Entanglement

Winner of the UJ Debut Fiction Prize (South Africa) Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize

Set in contemporary America, Entanglement is darkly humorous, intellectually adventurous and continually surprising, following the transformation of a man of certainty and science when confronted with violence and irrationality – a world far
from his own.

Synopsis

Charismatic physicist, Jared Borowitz, is fast losing his sense of humour. Everywhere he looks he sees ignorant and superstitious fools. His mentor, a giant of science and logic, is dying. His ex-wife has switched gender preference. He has even punched someone for the first time in his life. And enjoyed it. His girlfriend, morally certain and strong willed, is worried.

On a restorative weekend in the country with opinionated and urbane friends, Jared’s arrogance sets in motion a chain of events that brings menace and violence into their lives over a long night. Confronted by both the best and worst in men, he finds his preconceptions about humanity shattered.

Entanglement ranges broadly across the tensions between science and belief, free will and fate, art and artefact, violence and justice, sex and love, arrogance and timidity.

Praise:

‘Excellent, fast paced, clever and funny debut, commended for its sharp characterisations and superb writing.’ – The Judges, Shortlisted for the Sunday Times
Fiction Prize 2013

‘If you read only one book this month, read this.’ – Book of the Month, Jenny Cryws- Williams, The Book Show, Talk Radio 702

‘Steven Boykey Sidley has leapt into the literary limelight with a book called Entanglement. It’s a glorious mash-up of Phillip Roth, Saul Bellow, Ian McEwan and Elmore Leonard. Horny, heady and thrilling, Sidley has arrived on the
scene.’ – Richard Poplak, Daily Maverick

‘Entanglement is a compelling, unputdownable novel, but it is much more than a thriller, and lingers long in the mind afterwards. It ranges over aesthetics, sex, philosophy, religion and science, among many other things, but always in a way that is fresh and vital. Boykey Sidley has the rare ability to deal with weighty matters in a deft and engaging manner. This makes Entanglement a very memorable debut.’
– Craig Mackenzie, Professor of English at University of Johannesburg, and UJ Prize Judge, 2013

Stepping Out

Shortlisted for UJ Main Fiction Prize

Set in Columbus, Ohio, Stepping Out is a literary comedy about missed chances, the power of regret and coming to terms with the unpredictability of life and love.

Synopsis:

Harold Cummings has led a good life – honest, cautious prudent. Now retired, financially secure and terminally bored, he asks himself – where are my rewards? When his wife Millie is called away from home for a few days Harold slowly begins to unravel. Starting with small incidents of risky and uncharacteristic behaviour, he quickly spirals into a no-holds-barred encounter with the seamy underworld of the city. Harold careens shockingly and comically into a world without handrails, one that he finds terrifying but strangely compelling. As he is drawn into the ambit of a young hooker and her child, drug dealers and a violent pimp, Harold is forced to confront his demons head on, and to find the means to reverse his slide into self-destruction, and to find grace in the choices he has made.

Praise:

‘What an extraordinary novel! Steven Boykey Sidley… is rightly compared to Philip Roth. Like his American elder, he excels at staging an antihero struggling with existential questions about married life, sexuality, social success, parenthood, inequality, and relationship to religion.’ www.lexpress.fr

‘It is smart, deft, funny, vigorous and intellectually provocative. A compelling tale populated with vivid characters and sharp dialogue, this book is highly recommended.’ – Rian Malan, author of My Traitor’s Heart

‘A story to be celebrated for its philosophical courage and its affirmation of what matters most. Moving, authentic and acutely imagined.’ – Elaine Proctor, author of The Love Factory (Quercus

Imperfect Solo

Longlisted for Sunday Times/Barry Ronge Fiction Prize (South Africa)

A probing and comic look at the mishap and misfortune of one man’s chaotic life as it unravels around him.

Synopsis:

Meyer is filled with dread. His fading musical aspirations, his tyrannical CEO, his ex-wives, his exiting girlfriend, his ageing father and his confused and bewildered life will bear witness to the sky that he is convinced will soon fall on his head.

This is the story of a man adrift in ill-fortune and comic mishap, buffeted by the both existential and prosaic concerns that modern life in Los Angeles inflicts. Caught in the netherworld between the reckless optimism of youth and the resignation of age, Meyer tries to find handrails and ballast. Funny, intellectually probing and poignant, the story follows the flailing and hapless Meyer seeking hope and redemption as his
world unravels around him.

Praise:

‘A hilarious novel . . . It signs the coming on the literary scene of a new troublemaker. Smashing!’ – Madame Figaro

‘Imperfect Solo is a perfect riff on what it means to be human in this unsettled age—a complex range of notes from the profound, to the tender, to the laugh-out-loud. Anti- hero Joshua Meyer is, like the characters of Martin Amis and the Coen Brothers, hapless and hopeful, brave and bewildered; he is a little bit of all of us. Bravo!’ – Rene
Montagne – NPR
‘A rare and disturbing pleasure’ – William Boyd
‘If you love Philip Roth, you will love Steven Boykey Sidley’ – Elle (France)
‘Reading a Boykey Sidley novel is to experience vicariously a life lived to the full, with all of the excitement, tension, mishaps and intellectual stimulation one wishes for but rarely gets. Sidley has the knack of expressing ideas most of us merely fumble at –
and he does so acutely, fascinatingly, viscerally. Full of unflagging energy, verve and surprise, Imperfect Solo is a rare aesthetic delight.’ – Craig Mackenzie, professor of English at the University of Johannesburg and UJ Award judge

Free Association

Set in contemporary Los Angeles, Free Association, a novel in the comic literary fiction tradition, follows the unruly life of podcaster Max Lurie as he struggles to align his podcasts with his real life.

Synopsis:

Free Association casts a steely and comic eye upon the great and small concerns of being human – the chances we take and miss, the fragility of the psyche, the joy and despair of happenstance, the unpredictability of love, the dull certainty of death, and
the careening craziness of it all.

Max Lurie’s navel-gazing podcast about his life has become an unexpected runaway success. But its embellishments and inventions are starting to leak into his everyday life. As Max tries to navigate the grey areas between the fact and fiction, things begin to spin out of control. He juggles real and imagined girlfriends, an illegally procured firearm, an unpredictable friendship with a homeless schizophrenic, his acerbic immigrant producer Bongani, his dying father, his famous childhood sweetheart, an
unlikely romantic entanglement with a woman barely out of her teens and a critical and growing podcast audience. Can Max keep all of these balls in the air and finally bring them safely to rest?

Praise:

‘Sidley hands us a satirical tale of our times that is truly one of the finest books I have read in a long while. He has a depth and grace of writing that takes what could be ludicrous and makes is lyrical. Sophisticated, funny and sad, it will lure you into viewing the world in a slightly different way.’ – Jennifer Crocker – Cape TImes

‘His writing flows with congruency and cunning, dipping and splashing through conceptual bumf, popular rhetoric and conventional trends, with wisdom and ease. It is searingly witty and hard-edged and reads with a fluency that makes you not want to put it down as it cuts to the heart of sacred cows in every paragraph.’ – Robyn Sassen, My View

‘Like its wry and delightfully impulsive hero, Microphone has profound – and profoundly entertaining – things to tell us about love, lies and storytelling in the age of digital celebrity.’ – Henrietta Rose-Innes, author of 6 novels, including Nineveh,winner of the Francois Sommer Literary Prize (France)

Leaving Word

A literary mystery – a death in the publishing industry, a recently unemployed fiction editor looking for a new narrative for her life, a story of art and fame and family and the search for plot.

Synopsis:

As the onslaught of digital distractions tears through the world of book publishing, Joelle Jesson, editor-of-distinction, finds herself suddenly unemployed, in possession of a skill no longer in demand by a world glued to screens. And then her ex-boss, the CEO of the grand media company is found dead at his desk, without apparent cause.

And so her plot instincts light up. Why did he die? Was he killed? Did he commit suicide? Or does the real world sometimes not submit to three acts? As possible suspects come in and out of focus, Joelle must also navigate her own life, now crying out for a fresh narrative.

Compared by reviewers both here and abroad to Ian McEwen, Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Richards Powers and Joseph Heller, Sidley’s Leaving Word is brilliant mystery about fame, death, books, art and the search for love and meaning.