New Fiction: Playing Days – Benjamin Markovits

Markovits is an American writer living in London, where his work is highly regarded. This summer we published his “Detroit novel”, a beautifully written thought experiment about race, class and Rust Belt culture. USA Today had this to say about it:

Though the book’s events are set in 2011, the race and class conflicts chronicled here feel as up-to-the-minute as a cable network’s ‘Breaking News’ bulletin, though far more thoughtful and better examined than the latter… So few fiction writers deal directly with street-level economic and cultural conflict in the present day that you’re grateful that You Don’t Have to Live Like This exists at all.”

Playing Days is an earlier novel which is being published in the U.S. for the first time. It’s an autobiographical coming of age story based on the time Markovits spent on the European professional basketball circuit playing for a minor league German team. That scenario is the launching point for a lovely novel about first love and how one starts to imagine an adult life and career for oneself.

“[A] frank, disarming autobiographical novel… .Contemplating his writing career, the narrator confesses to Anke that he wants to write stories about “people who don’t have any major flaws, who don’t do anything stupid or wrong, and who don’t suffer from any unusual bad luck.” Modest as that ambition may seem, it’s precisely what Benjamin Markovits has done here. That he’s done it so artfully makes Playing Days such a pleasing novel.”
   — Shelf Awareness

Precision, clarity and seriousness give his style an admirable restraint, instilled with compassion for each character’s struggle…a personal story [lifts] into a more intriguing one about losing and winning, an evocative sporting memoir into a tale of growing and becoming, and how ambition measures up with experience. It takes great skill to write this well about things that don’t happen.”
   — The Daily Telegraph

 “Markovits draws himself with exceptional delicacy…This is the territory of the rites-of-passage novel, but it is territory that the author navigates with subtlety and poignancy.”
   — The Guardian

“[A] sharply honest account of the mostly selfish impulses of a young man…astutely rendering the restlessness of that ill-fitting period between schooling and manhood, in which mettle needs to be found before it can be tested.”
— The Independent

Playing Days (9780062376633) by Benjamin Markovits. $15.99 trade paper original. 11/3/15 on sale.

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