The Sport of KingsBook - 2016
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.