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Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue
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Sudden Death

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Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue
Paperback $17.00
Feb 07, 2017 | ISBN 9780735213449

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  • Feb 07, 2017 | ISBN 9780735213449

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“Brainspinning.” —Marlon James, Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

“[A] novel without boundaries.” —O, the Oprah Magazine

“Brilliantly original. The best new novel I’ve read this year.” —Salman Rushdie

“[A] bawdy, often profane, sprawling, ambitious book that is as engaging as it is challenging.” —Vogue

Sudden Death is the best kind of puzzle, its elements so esoteric and wildly funny that readers will race through the book, wondering how Álvaro Enrigue will be able to pull a novel out of such an astonishing ball of string. But Enrigue absolutely does; and with brilliance and clarity and emotional warmth all the more powerful for its surreptitiousness.”  —Lauren GroffNew York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies

“Mind-bending.” —Wall Street Journal

“Engrossing… rich with history.” —The New Yorker

“Writing with his customary intensity about his favorite sport, David Foster Wallace described tennis as ‘chess on the run, beautiful and infinitely dense.’ In his droll and erudite new novel, Sudden Death, Álvaro Enrigue provides his own distinct take on that chess-on-the-run notion and elevates it to an even more exalted level… [G]lorious… [H]is approach has both great entertainment value and intellectual appeal… Splendid.” —Larry Rohter, New York Times

“Here is a novel that does full justice to the phrase ‘cutting edge’: In the manner of its protagonist, Caravaggio, Sudden Death is at once formally audacious and piercingly  humane.” – Garth Risk Hallberg, New York Times bestselling author of City on Fire

“What makes the novel so enthralling is the intimate humanity of its characters. Enrigue demystifies them using a rich, baroque naturalism, cut by flippancy and goofy jokes (all hail to translator Natasha Wimmer for relaxed perfection in every key)… Sudden Death resembles the arts it celebrates: selective, dramatized, all dark gaps and sensual glare, bending naturalism to some post-God purpose, like Caravaggio. Building a luxuriant picture that only ignites into meaning when angled a certain way, like the feather artists. Throughout this mercurial novel, playing fast and loose with facts lets richer truths about the world emerge.” —The Washington Post

“[A] novel of revolution in the spatial and historical sense of the word…. And structurally, Sudden Death isn’t normative: a short screenplay and the author’s emails are interspersed with short entries from obscure sporting dictionaries and excerpts from humanist classics. Chapters are short, enticing and written with a casual erudition that whispers to readers that, no matter the apparent surprises of the game, the author is in full control. Enrigue muses on the nature of the novel and his intentions in writing Sudden Death as easily as he holds a candle to the obscure maneuvers of the powerful. And he has a poet’s ear, beautifully attended to by Natasha Wimmer’s translation…. Sudden Death shows us that games are never merely games, because no game is played without consequences.” —Los Angeles Times

“By turns intellectual and earthy, Enrigue’s fictionalized account of Renaissance Europe and 16th century Mexico is the best kind of history lesson: erudite without being stuffy, an entertaining work that incorporates the Counter-Reformation, the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, art history and even a grammar lesson on Spanish diminutives into one mesmerizing narrative.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“At once erudite and phantasmagoric.” —The Millions

“[A]n exhilarating, funny, and surprisingly sexy read. Enrigue turns historical figures into real, flesh-and-blood people.” —Buzzfeed

“Inventive… The book bounces back and forth between the old world and the new, the past and the present, conquistadors and Mayans, and much more as it reimagines history as a sometimes brutal and sometimes hilarious tennis match.” —Thrillist

“This novel by one of Mexico’s most innovative authors is a triumph of narrative skill, humour and lightly worn erudition.” —The Financial Times

“Like the tennis court, fiction can be both a constrained and a constraining space… Enrigue teasingly suggests that the only debt a novel has is to its own internal coherence… In less able hands, this could all feel a bit labored, but in Sudden Death the postmodernist flourishes are never gimmicks. They are suited to their subject, reflecting and revealing the games and tricks of empires and of the histories they construct to justify themselves.” —Bookforum

Sudden Death is very, very funny and it is unfailingly brilliant and I have no idea how to describe it–another one of its rare virtues. I might say it is about tennis, or history, or art, or absurdity, but more accurate would be to say, simply, that it’s essential reading.”
Rivka Galchen

“A story of history plunging forward and the world at a defining moment. Rackets are raised; the court looms large. Finally a tale that truly defies the bounds of the novel.” 
Enrique Vila-Matas

Sudden Death is a unique object – tropical and transatlantic; hypermodern and antiquarian—a specialized literary instrument designed to resist the deadly certainties of universal history. But don’t let that confuse you. Sure, his method may be all playfulness and multiplicity, but Álvaro Enrigue is the most disabused novelist I know.” 
Adam Thirlwell, author of Lurid & Cute

“A full-fledged writer.” 
Mario Vargas Llosa

“[Enrigue] belongs to many literary traditions at once and shows a great mastery of them all. . . . His novel belongs to Max Planck’s quantum universe rather than the relativistic universe of Albert Einstein: a world of coexisting fields in constant interaction and whose particles are created or destroyed in the same act.” 
Carlos Fuentes

“In this wildly surreal novel — translated by Natasha Wimmer, who also translated Roberto Bolaño — the Mexican-born author imagines a 16th century tennis match between the Italian painter Caravaggio and the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo played with a ball made from the hair of the beheaded Anne Boleyn. And then things really get strange.” —Newsday

“A rare example of an artful, comedic, deeply literary novel with the potential to become a fixture on bookshelves everywhere.” —Flavorwire 

“Beautifully rendered… Sudden Death is one of the most engaging, audacious, and flat-out fun works of fiction I’ve read in a while.” —
“Exuberantly intellectual… Enrigue transmutes the familiar, and shifts our awareness. Sudden Death is an original, transformative work.” —
 “The latest novel from Álvaro Enrigue defies any kind of easy description… If you like your fiction both gripping and impossible to categorize, this may be your new obsession.” —Vol. 1 Brooklyn
 “This rich novel will make the world come alive for you in completely new ways.” —Bustle 

“Álvaro Enrigue’s Sudden Death reads more like an intoxicating adventure than a novel — set around the world in the 16th century, Sudden Death presents familiar players (Galileo, Caravaggio, Anne Boleyn, Cortés, and more) like we’ve never seen them before. Spectacularly original, Enrigue’s daring novel challenges everything readers think they know about European colonialism, history, art, and modernity.” —Buzzfeed, Most Exciting Books Coming in 2016
“Joyfully disorienting… Enrigue’s ambitious tale bends in on itself and will reward readers who won’t mind feeling like wanderers lost in the increasingly erudite corridors of Borges’ library of Babel.” —Booklist 

Sudden Death reads like a playful novel written by a master with a wicked serve… Not only does the reader get to brawl, drink, and love with Caravaggio, but Enrigue slides effortlessly between the tennis match and discourses that turn into philosophical art history… The effect of these quick chapters is dazzling without being inaccessible.” —Kirkus

“Enrigue may be the best Mexican writer at work today. This novel is genius.” —Scott Esposito

“[Enrigue] keeps his reader spell-bound in these three-hundred pages, all while delivering a hair-raising lesson in history and literature.” —Le Monde

“The speculative weight of this novel is brilliant, intriguing. No less brilliant is its unreliable narration.” —El País

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