A wonderful, warm novel from a major new American voice.
In The Art of Fielding, we see young men who know that their four years on the baseball diamond at Westish College are all that remain of their sporting careers. Only their preternaturally gifted fielder, Henry Skrimshander, seems to have the chance to keep his dream – and theirs, vicariously – alive, until a routine throw goes disastrously off course, and the fates of five people are upended.
After his throw threatens to ruin his roommate Owen’s future, Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his; while Mike Schwartz, the team captain and Henry’s best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. Keeping a keen eye on them all, college president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, falls unexpectedly and dangerously in love, much to the surprise of his daughter, Pella, who has returned to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warm-hearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment – to oneself and to others.
Reviews of The Art of Fielding
- ‘It’s left a little hole in my life the way a really good book will’ Jonathan Franzen
- ‘This is an outstanding novel about sport and, in Henry Skrimshander, Harbach has created a character who will keep sports psychologists in conversation for years’ Mike Atherton, The Times
- ‘Charming, warm-hearted, addictive’ Guardian
- ‘Once started The Art of Fielding is a book you want to read and read. It is deliciously old-fashioned: it simply gets on with the business of creating vivid, layered characters and telling a good, engrossing story’ Daily Telegraph
- ‘An intricate, poised, tingling debut … leaves you longing, lingering, and a baseball convert long after the last page’ Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife, winner of the Orange Prize
- ‘Chad Harbach has hit a game-ender with The Art of Fielding. It’s pure fun, easy to read, as if the other Fielding had a hand in it — as if Tom Jones were about baseball and college life.’ John Irving
- Steeped in American tradition, this moving debut hits a home run…What in less skilled hands might have been a light comic novel evolves into a debut of great warmth and weight… This is a charming, moving and slyly profound novel. You might even say Chad Harbach hit this one out of the park’ Sunday Telegraph
- ‘Every bit as good as billed. A big, beautiful blowout of a book, sure and generous, it reads like a throwback to the mid-20th century, when American literature was in its pomp… an exceptional debut’ Guardian
- ‘A terrifically engaging novel… you will be rewarded by a page-turning, beguiling and wonderfully warm-hearted read’. Sunday Times
- ‘The baseball sequences are terrific… Harbach captures precisely the strangely becalmed grace that sets sportsmen like Henry apart…Very good indeed’ Independent