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The Sport of Kings

 
 
Author
C.E. Morgan.
Publisher Picador  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.25 x 5.5 x 1 inches
ISBN 9781250131843
Pages/Publication Date 545/2016
Daedalus Item Code 79383
List Price: $18.00
Sale Price: $11.95
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(Winner of the 2016 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, as well as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year) Deemed "nothing short of genius" (New York Times Book Review), this is an American tale of two families—one a white Southern dynasty whose forefathers were among the founders of Kentucky, the other, descendants of their African American slaves. The fabric of their shared histories converge in a racehorse named Hellsmouth, heir to Secretariat and a contender for the Triple Crown. Newly confronted with one another in the quest for victory, the two families must face the consequences of their ambitions, as each is driven—and haunted—by the same enduring question: how far away from your father can you run? C.E. Morgan unspools a fearless narrative stretching from the fields of the Virginia piedmont to the pastures of the Bluegrass region, from the final shots of the Revolutionary War to the clang of the starting bell at Churchill Downs.

"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."—NYTBR

"In its poetic splendor and moral seriousness, The Sport of Kings bears the traces of Faulkner, Morrison, and McCarthy.... It is a contemporary masterpiece."—SFChronicle

"As a boy, Henry Forge determines to turn the land his aristocratic Kentucky family has planted with corn for generations into a farm for racehorses. Henry grows into an arrogant, hard man, imbued with the unthinking racism and sexism of his haughty father and unnaturally focused on his only child, Henrietta. Before she leaves him, wife Judith loudly voices the novel's seething strain of bitterness about the lot of women in this world, but her anger is nothing compared to the rage of Allmon Shaughnessy, an African-American man who enters the story in the early 2000s, when Henrietta and he are both in their 20s. Backtracking to trace Allmon's past, Morgan's gothic tale of Southern decadence deepens into a searing investigation of racism's enduring legacy. Allmon's ailing, hard-pressed mother and her father, a storefront preacher and veteran civil rights activist, are notable among the teeming cast of brilliantly drawn secondary characters who populate the bleak saga of an intelligent, sensitive boy with zero prospects; by the time he's 17, Allmon is in jail, where he discovers the knack with horses that gets him hired on the Forges' farm. A few years go by, Henrietta and Allmon become lovers, but there's little hope of a happy future for such damaged people. A series of five brilliant riffs called Interludes anchor this modern tale in a vast sweep of geological time and the grim particulars of Allmon's ancestor, a runaway slave named Scipio. The consequences of the Forges' brutality and pride come home to roost in an apocalyptic climax just after their extraordinary filly Hellsmouth runs the 2006 Kentucky Derby; it's entirely appropriate to Morgan's dark vision that it's not the guiltiest who pay the highest price. Vaultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion. How will this dazzling writer astonish us next time?"—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 
 
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