The Sport Of Kings

Paperback | June 6, 2017

byC.e. Morgan

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The daring, inventive novel (a sprawling family saga set in Kentucky that combines southern gothic with the drama of horse racing) from a brilliant young author named one of The New Yorker's "20 Best Writers Under 40."

Here is the ambitious, strikingly original, and dazzling new novel from a young writer whose first novel, All the Living, received passionate praise and rave reviews, and earned her one of the highly coveted spots on The New Yorker's list of the "20 Best Writers Under 40" alongside such peers as Karen Russell, Wells Tower, Téa Obreht, and Dinaw Mengestu. But where that first novel had startling ambition and scope yet strictly contained its remarkable energy within notably spare language and a pared-down setting and time frame, this new novel's energy bursts out of the gate running and gallops through generations, consuming a multitude of characters and plots.
     The title The Sport of Kings refers to horse racing, and the novel centres itself within that world: a connected web of humans and animals, as well as a fertile patch of land, in the heart of Kentucky. With breathtaking fluency, C.E. Morgan puts us inside the consciousness of an extraordinary range of characters who inhabit that patch of land through the years: an adolescent trying to grow up under the withering gaze of his landowner father; a brilliant black woman struggling with her seeming fate to be a household servant; a whip-smart boy who grows up in the ghetto but seeks to know more about his mysterious origins; and a girl whose uncompromising love of her family's legacy leads her to gamble with her own life.
     C.E. Morgan's writing has been compared to that of Marilynne Robinson and James Salter, and her ability to articulate moments fleetingly observed or sudden subtle changes in tenor and mood has a similar effect of mingled surprise and inevitability. This is writing that, even in its wildest and most southern-gothic moments, contains both the ring of truth and the thrill of discovery.

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The daring, inventive novel (a sprawling family saga set in Kentucky that combines southern gothic with the drama of horse racing) from a brilliant young author named one of The New Yorker's "20 Best Writers Under 40."Here is the ambitious, strikingly original, and dazzling new novel from a young writer whose first novel, All the Livin...

C.E. MORGAN is the author of the 2010 novel All the Living (Knopf Canada; Farrar, Straus & Giroux). She was a recipient of the National Book Foundation's "5 under 35" award and a 2010 Lannan Literary Fellowship. In 2010, she was also named by The New Yorker as one of America's "20 Best Writers Under 40." As an undergraduate, Morgan stu...

other books by C.e. Morgan

The Sport Of Kings
The Sport Of Kings

Hardcover|May 3 2016

$28.70 online$36.95list price(save 22%)
Tutti i viventi
Tutti i viventi

Kobo ebook|Oct 7 2010


All the Living
All the Living

Kobo ebook|Mar 2 2010


Format:PaperbackDimensions:560 pages, 8 × 5.19 × 0.68 inPublished:June 6, 2017Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:030739736X

ISBN - 13:9780307397362

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Editorial Reviews

“With The Sport of Kings, C. E. Morgan has delivered a masterpiece. Rich, deep, and ambitious, this book is, by any standard, a Great American Novel.” —Philipp Meyer, author of The Son“Morgan can do things that other novelists can’t. . . . [The Sport of Kings] feels urgent in its ends and sincere in its faith in the power of literature—the resort of a voracious intelligence trying to do justice to an overwhelming world. . . . She can linger on a landscape like twilight rolling in over Kentucky, more content than most modern writers to keep you outside watching until the stars come out, and better at it. But she can also bring in botany and biology and geology, quote Darwin and Dawkins. . . . All this is startling, terrific stuff, as is so much of The Sport of Kings. . . . [T]remendous, the work of a writer just starting to show us what she can do.” —Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker   “In this century . . . the finest ‘major’ novels have more often than not been written by women. Zadie Smith, Donna Tartt, Eleanor Catton, Meg Wolitzer and Elena Ferrante are among those hitting the long balls in contemporary fiction, and with The Sport of Kings, a world-encompassing colossus second novel, C. E. Morgan has joined their ranks. . . . There will not be a novel with a larger and more dazzlingly deployed vocabulary published this year, and Morgan refreshingly trounces certain creative writing fashions by telling, rather than showing, the inner lives of her characters. . . . [E]very sentence of this novel is written so grandly and with such gravitas. . . . Some still see novels of this magnitude as a sport of kings, but as one racing commentator puts it: ‘The King is dead. Long live the Queen!’” —Michael LaPointe, The Times Literary Supplement   “No dead horse has been more thoroughly flogged than the Great American Novel, yet C. E. Morgan, undeterred, has coaxed the poor animal into unexpected resurrection, leading it up onto its shaking legs and into a full-blooded gallop. The Sport of Kings is a novel ostensibly about horse racing, but it is competing for much higher stakes. Morgan has dared to write the kind of book that was presumed long extinct: a high literary epic of America. . . . [I]t is the first novel since Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (1985) to take its own ambition seriously. . . . [The Sport of Kings is] intricately assembled. . . . [M]organ is a good old-fashioned storyteller, knowing what to withhold and what to reveal. That is not to say that The Sport of Kings ever eases into the merely conventional. This novel does not canter along; it bucks and heaves. As the momentum builds, the force of its culminating revelations urges you towards what you might have least expected: the desire to get back in the saddle and do it all over again.”—Duncan White, The Daily Telegraph (5 stars)   “This ambitious, scathing epic lays bare gentility and cruelty in the Ohio River Valley and the horse racing obsession between Lexington and Louisville. . . . Any reader willing to gaze long and deeply to comprehend Kentucky’s culture of pomp and shame will do well to spend time with this book. . . . If you’ve ever driven past big houses like that in rural Kentucky and wondered about the lives inside, their curious pride and troubling past resounds throughout The Sport of Kings.” —The Courier-Journal   “Morgan’s language is thick with description. She employs long, propulsive sentences that hurtle the reader through terrifying stories and nail-biting descriptions of horse races. . . . [The Sport of Kings] starts at a fever pitch and remains there. . . . Given the diversity of America, the idea of the Great American Novel has perhaps outlived its usefulness. How could one author capture this sprawling nation? That being said, The Sport of Kings is a worthy contender and tells a story about America that is challenging and inclusive.”—The Dallas Morning News   “[I]n her second novel, C.E. Morgan freshens up a hallowed setting with an upstart cast of characters trying to overturn a world stuck in the past.” —National Post   “Morgan follows up her slim, keening debut (All the Living, 2009) with an epic novel steeped in American history and geography. . . . [The Sport of Kings is] [v]aultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)  “[G]orgeously textured. . . . C. E. Morgan has more nerve, linguistic vitality and commitment to cosmic thoroughness in one joint of her little finger than the next hundred contemporary novelists have in their entire bodies and vocabularies. . . . The fire, virtuosity and spiritual imagination . . . are nothing short of genius.” —The New York Times Book Review   “This novel is ambitious. . . . The Sport of Kings is spirited, fast and almost perfectly formed. . . . The boldness wins you over. . . . The cast of minor characters is superb.” —The Times   “[A]mbitious, beautifully written.” —Flavorwire   “[R]ich and compulsive new novel. . . . This book confirms [Morgan] as the new torchbearer of the Southern Gothic tradition. . . . [Morgan] is such an immersive storyteller, with such a vivid sense of place, such a true ear for dialogue, and so subtle a gift of characterisation. . . . Her prose is often ravishingly beautiful, displaying an unerring instinct for metaphor and music. . . . The plot is expertly laid out. . . . By the time I was one hundred pages in, my English cynicism at the spectacle of another author setting out to write the Great American Novel had dissolved into wonder and delight: C.E. Morgan has come close to realising that very thing.” —Edmund Gordon, Financial Times   “[Full of] innumerable wonders. . . . [The Sport of Kings is a] magnificent, transgressive novel. . . . [The Sport of Kings is an] extravagant and emotionally wrenching tale. . . . [P]lot and character both surrender to language, the unmistakable star of this show. Words pour out of Morgan’s mouth with the same prodigality that ropes of drool come out of the gnashing bit-biter of Hellsmouth, the thoroughbred filly at the center of this story.” —The Bay Area Reporter   “That [The Sport of Kings] is an achievement is beyond doubt. . . . Morgan barely draws breath as she chronicles the fortunes of Henry Forge, the racehorse-breeding scion of Kentucky planters. Horses, however, are only half the story: the selfish gene and the legacy of slavery; creation myth, Oedipal struggle and torrid melodrama—all are grist to the voracious narrative surge. As for over-egging it, that charge too is entertained and overruled.” —The Observer   “[R]avishing and ambitious. . . . On its surface, The Sport of Kings has enough incident (arson, incest, a lynching, miscegenation, murder) to sustain a 1980s-era television mini-series. . . . But Ms. Morgan is not especially interested in surfaces, or in conventional plot migrations. She’s an interior writer, with deep verbal and intellectual resources. . . . Ms. Morgan’s prose has some of [filmmaker Terrence Malick’s] elastic sense of time. Her pace frequently slows to a dream-crawl as she scrutinizes the natural world as if cell by cell. Then, with the flick of a thoroughbred’s tail, we are catapulted generations forward or back. . . . In The Sport of Kings, each blade of grass seems to sway with fat significance. . . . [C. E. Morgan] can do anything. . . . In The Sport of Kings [Morgan] has clearly written a serious and important novel if not a great one.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review   “C.E. Morgan’s The Sport of Kings is a novel of vaulting ambition. . . . In its poetic splendor and moral seriousness, The Sport of Kings bears the traces of Faulkner, Morrison and McCarthy. Remarkably, the novel stands up to such august comparisons. . . . The Sport of Kings marshals linguistic profligacy in order to approach reality’s extravagance. Morgan’s sentences often use a paratactic structure, linking clauses with a simple comma; long stretches read like litanies. This deeply cadenced structure, typical of the King James Bible, holds out the promise that if only one more item could be added to the list, the world might be captured in language. It is a sign of Morgan’s mastery that she almost convinces us that she can accomplish this impossible task. There are too many brilliant sentences and richly imagined characters to describe here. . . . The Sport of Kings roils with anger and shimmers with beauty. It is a contemporary masterpiece.” —San Francisco Chronicle  From the Hardcover edition.