A Gambler's Anatomy: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)
November 2016 Indie Next List
“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.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2016
“[A Gambler’s Anatomy] . . . is nearly perfect.”
—The New York Daily News
“A thoughtful, first-rate novel, that also happens to be a page-turner.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“An effortless blend of comic hijinks and madcap tragedy. . . . Lethem serves up a punchy, stylish, relentlessly entertaining novel.” —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“A Gambler’s Anatomy will lead more than one reader to rummage around in the back of their closet (or local toy store) for a backgammon set . . . mesmerizing, twisty, fearless.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Mr. Lethem’s backgammon writing has a satisfying crunch. It’s witty and sexy, too. I’m not sure I’ve ever before read a love scene that begins with a woman crying out, ‘Double me, gammon me’. . . . But this novel quickly bends, like one of Uri Geller’s spoons into stranger territory. . . . It’s a tragicomedy; it plays at its best like a “Twilight Zone” episode filmed by the Coen brothers. . . . Mr. Lethem has a touching sense of the lives of obsessive misfits. They’re his tribe.”
—The New York Times
“In his new novel, he seems to be channeling (and, as usual, transforming) both Thomas Pynchon and Ian Fleming. . . . In short, just another day in Lethemland.” —Chicago Tribune