The Sport of Kings

C. E. Morgan

‘You and I are family. Blood and treasure. Listen to me, I created this world with my own two hands, and I am going to leave it all to you.’

Hellsmouth, an indomitable thoroughbred filly, runs for the glory of the Forge family, one of Kentucky’s oldest and most powerful dynasties. Henry Forge has partnered with his daughter, Henrietta, in an endeavour of raw obsession: to breed the next superhorse. But when Allmon Shaughnessy, an ambitious young black man, comes to work on their farm after a stint in prison, the violence of the Forges’ history and the exigencies of appetite are brought starkly into view. Entangled by fear, prejudice, and lust, the three tether their personal dreams of glory to the speed and grace of Hellsmouth.

A spiralling tale of wealth and poverty, racism and rage, The Sport of Kings is an unflinching portrait of lives cast in shadow by the enduring legacy of slavery. A vital new voice, C. E. Morgan has given life to a tale as mythic and fraught as the South itself – a moral epic for our time.

Reviews of The Sport of Kings

  • ‘CE Morgan has delivered a masterpiece. Rich, deep, and ambitious, this book is, by any standard, a Great American Novel’ Philipp Meyer, author of The Son and American Rust

    ‘In this century, the finest “major” novels have more often than not been written by women. Zadie Smith, Donna Tartt, Eleanor Catton, Meg Wolitzer and Elena Ferrante are among those hitting the long balls in contemporary fiction, and with The Sport of Kings, a world-encompassing colossus second novel, C. E. Morgan has joined their ranks … Morgan is a virtuoso stylist …There will not be a novel with a larger and more dazzlingly deployed vocabulary published this year … Constantly invigorating, surprising and transfixing’ TLS

    ‘A high literary epic of America. Long and dense, violent and strident … portentous … majestic’ Sunday Telegraph

    ‘That Morgan’s second novel is an achievement is beyond doubt … Morgan barely draws breath as she chronicles the fortunes of Henry Forge’ Observer

    ‘Fich and compulsive … This book confirms Morgan as the new torchbearer of the Southern Gothic tradition … She is such an immersive storyteller, with such a vivid sense of place, such a true ear for dialogue, and so subtle a gift of characterisation … Her prose is often ravishingly beautiful, displaying an unerring instinct for metaphor and music … By the time I was 100 pages in, my English cynicism at the spectacle of another author setting out to write the Great American Novel had dissolved into wonder and delight: CE Morgan has come close to realising that very thing’ Financial Times

    ‘Morgan’s novel is big news … think of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life’ The Sunday Times

    ‘There were moments while reading this sprawling, ambitious novel when I thought I was reading a masterpiece … At times my compulsion to read on was like a physical force’ The Spectator

    ‘This epic feat of storytelling confirms Morgan as a torchbearer for the new southern Gothic tradition’ Financial Times