“The Gambler vs. the House. Alexander Bruno's journey as a psychically abled, top-notch backgammon player illuminates themes of reward and loss, purpose and fulfillment in this engaging, thought-provoking yarn. Lethem's prose is on point, and his allusions and references resonate strongly. His description of this world - fast, oddly comical, sardonic, and, at most times, without sense or reason - is poignant and heavy-hitting, full of breath without being overly winded. Another winner from Lethem, who has established himself firmly amongst the top dogs of intelligent contemporary literary fiction.”
— Blake Smith (E), The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL
The author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude returns with a devilishly entertaining novel about an international backgammon hustler who thinks he's psychic. Too bad about the tumor in his face.
Alexander Bruno travels the world playing high stakes backgammon and hunting for amateur "whales" who think they can challenge him. Lately he's had a run of bad luck, not helped by the blot that has emerged in his field of vision, which forces him to look at the board sideways. As the blot grows larger, his game gets worse, until, at an opulent mansion in Berlin, he passes out in the middle of a match and receives an alarming diagnosis. Out of money and out of friends, he turns to the only person who can help (and the last person he wants to see): a high-rolling former childhood acquaintance who agrees to pay for Bruno's experimental surgery in Berkeley. But Berkeley is the place where Bruno discovered his psychic gift and where he vowed never to return. There, forced to confront patchouli flashbacks and his uncertain future, he must ask himself: Is he playing the game, or is the game playing him?
About the Author
Jonathan Lethem is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Dissident Gardens, The Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn; three short story collections; and two essay collections, including The Ecstasy of Influence, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Lethem's work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The New York Times, among other publications. www.jonathanlethem.com