Godwin: A Novel (Hardcover)

Godwin: A Novel By Joseph O'Neill Cover Image
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(Fiction)

Description


THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE • From the acclaimed author of Netherland (a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the year): the odyssey of two brothers crossing the world in search of an African soccer prodigy who might change their fortunes.

Mark Wolfe, a brilliant if self-thwarting technical writer, lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Sushila, and their toddler daughter. His half-brother Geoff, born and raised in the United Kingdom, is a desperate young soccer agent. He pulls Mark across the ocean into a scheme to track down an elusive prospect known only as “Godwin”—an African teenager Geoff believes could be the next Lionel Messi.

Narrated in turn by Mark and his work colleague Lakesha Williams, Godwin is a tale of family and migration as well as an international adventure story that implicates the brothers in the beauty and ugliness of soccer, the perils and promises of international business, and the dark history of transatlantic money-making.

As only he can do, Joseph O’Neill investigates the legacy of colonialism in the context of family love, global capitalism, and the dreaming individual.

About the Author


JOSEPH O’NEILL was born in Ireland and grew up in Mozambique, Iran, Turkey, and Holland. His previous novels include the PEN/Faulkner Award–winning Netherland and the Booker Prize long-listed The Dog. O’Neill’s short fiction appears regularly in The New Yorker and his political essays in The New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City.

Praise For…


Named a Most Anticipated Book by The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Vogue, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Esquire, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, LitHub, Publishers Weekly, and Publishers Lunch

“Exuberant. . . . A medieval Grail quest reimagined for the 21st century, grounded in race, capitalism, and the scorched-earth legacy of colonialism. . . . O’Neill has produced a dense yet rollicking tale that rises above the literary competition, slapstick and funny but deadly serious, an indictment of how we live now.” —Hamilton Cain, The Boston Globe
 
“Nobody else’s fiction tears up the ground quite like O’Neill’s profoundly introspective novels. . . . In their careful braiding of anxiety and aspiration, his stories are marvels of narrative magic and stylistic panache. . . . Like Godwin, this novelist is a player whose charges and feints will leave you amazed.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“An exercise in realism by one of its finer contemporary disciples.” Vulture

“What is most satisfying about Godwin is the range of its interests and themes. Mr. O’Neill is a capable satirist but is also good at quick, affecting secondary character sketches. He reaches for big geopolitical subjects like globalism and immigration but seamlessly shrinks down to dwell on Lakesha’s office conflict and Mark’s disrupted family life. Questions of exploitation and opportunity, greed and collective benefit, play across every scene, acquiring different shadings and ambiguities and, ultimately, affording the reader the same complicated enjoyment as the world’s most popular sport.” The Wall Street Journal

“Enthralling. . . . O’Neill animates football as a grand metaphor for togetherness.” —Robert Collins, The Times

“O’Neill braids . . . two narratives together with surprising finesse, telling a powerful story about how we treat our fellow man, both within the global macrocosm of commercial sports and within the intimate microcosm of the workplace. Thorny and nuanced, Godwin reminds us that O’Neill is a master of the social novel.” Esquire, "Best Books of the Summer"

“Bouncing from office politics to families, from global capitalism to colonialism, the novel delivers storytelling with wit and depth.” Christian Science Monitor
 
“Crystalline prose and keen observations on family and postcolonialism as seen through the seedier side of the global soccer industry make this a winner.” —Lauren LeBlanc, The Boston Globe
 
“Exceptional. . . . O’Neill’s storytelling here has an enthralling fireside quality, ushering us with deceptive simplicity into a labyrinth of motive and desire, breathtaking betrayals and artfully twined threads. A book to sink into, in other words, and one not to be missed.” The Guardian
  
“Populous, lively and intellectually challenging. . . . Like Netherland, O’Neill’s sprawling tale of cricket and exile in post-9/11 New York, Godwin uses sports as a window on global realities that might otherwise be too vast or too abstract to perceive. This time, the sport is soccer, which draws Mark into a shadowy, transactional world of late-capitalist, post-colonial intrigue.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
 
“Absorbing . . . picaresque.” Vogue

“A wide-ranging inquiry into the ethical demands of the world economy and the viability of the collective ideal, Godwin illustrates another direction for the sports novel—one that takes as a given the international reach of athletics. . . . Godwin expands the reach even further, understanding sport both as a driver of the international marketplace and as a deeply troubling personal question. . . . O’Neill [shows] that the best sports novels both transcend the genre and are interested in doing no such thing.” Esquire
 
“Excellent. . . . While the search for a soccer player is the engine of Godwin’s plot, the book is really about power: those who have it, those who don’t and those who scheme to get it.” Bookpage

“‘The next Pelé’ or ‘the next Messi’ are words sure to ignite the fantasies of soccer fans anywhere. When tech writer Mark is contacted by his sports agent, half-brother Geoff, Mark leaves Pittsburgh to join him on a madcap adventure to find such a phenom: an African teenager known only as Godwin. O’Neill combines the brothers’ exploits with sharp observations about international business and issues like greenwashing and corruption that have tarnished the world’s game.” Los Angeles Times

“How to describe Godwin? At once a minute, hilariously observed, and poignant workplace novel about Pittsburgh, and a sweeping postcolonial picaresque novel about the grim fringes of the global soccer industry, replete with laugh-out-loud observations, gorgeously turned phrases, and exhilarating dialogue, pervaded by a winning sense of exasperated humanism. The whole time I was reading, I was thinking ‘I wish there were more books like this.’” —Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or

“No one will exit this pinwheeling novel unmoved by its tender and terrible surprises. Reading Godwin, I laughed out loud many times, I felt sick with grief and outrage, and I was shaken by ‘an intensification of reality so strong that I had a touch of vertigo.’ Every sentence is suffused with O’Neill’s capacious intelligence, humor, and care.” —Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
 
“This novel is so much frickin' fun to read that I didn't want it to end. What chops! What voices! And what an entertainingly dark vision. Do you need to know football (aka 'soccer')? No! But if you know a little football, you absolutely have to read this. What's it like? Nothing except maybe Heart of Darkness and Marlow and Joseph Conrad at his best. What an achievement. Among the best novels I've read in a long time.” —Bill Buford, author of Among the Thugs

“Godwin is a miracle: a gripping novel refracting in clear and poetic language the seemingly incompatible elements of today’s world: Africa, Pittsburgh, workplace intrigues, colonialism, writing, racism, dogs, sibling rivalry, capitalism, modalities of love, all under the splendorous umbrella of soccer as an exploitative business, passion, philosophy, and history. The reader is compelled to keep reading Godwin not only to see what happens next, but to find out how O’Neill is going to pull it all off—only to find out that he succeeds spectacularly. Godwin is a champion book.” —Aleksandar Hemon, author of The World and All That It Holds

“Exciting and incisive. . . . As O’Neill artfully pairs the thrill of the hunt for Godwin with the complex politics of cooperative work, the driving force that connects the twinned narratives is the corruptive power of capitalism. This has all the velocity and swerve of an unstoppable free kick.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“O’Neill has a gift for finding humor in emotional stress, and it shines. . . . The [characters] go through twists and turns, culminating in an African odyssey. . . . An astonishing marathon of storytelling . . . that highlights the avarice of sports recruitment and the legacy of colonialism. . . . Another exceptional entry in the O’Neill corpus.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A wondrous novel, full of insights, one that leaves the reader questioning why there isn't more fiction about the world’s most popular sport.” Booklist (starred review)


Product Details
ISBN: 9780593701324
ISBN-10: 0593701321
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English