Luck: A Personal Account of Fortune, Chance and Risk in Thirteen Investigations

By David Flusfeder

‘A joy’ Philippe Sands

‘Glorious’ David Spiegelhalter

A fascinating, enchanting and personal look at the meaning of luck, and the way in which it has shaped our shared history and continues to inflect our day to day lives.

What does it mean to be lucky? How might we mitigate the effects of bad luck and maximise those of good? Is there actually such a thing as ‘luck’—some force that intervenes between desire and its consummation, that impedes or hastens it?

To answer these questions, David Flusfeder sets out on a search for the definition of luck. This quest will take him to Siberia, Versailles, the Old Testament desert; play roulette in Baden-Baden with Dostoevsky; visit a Cambridge fairground with Wittgenstein; meet the sixteenth-century poet Thomas Bastard, who challenged Fortune, and lost; find Nietzsche on the slopes of Vesuvius; learn about the pioneers of probability; the twentieth-century art investigators of chance and possibility; and the intensely personal story of his father’s good fortune in escaping war-time Poland. Starting at the British Library in London, and following the dictates of an online randomiser that decided the chapter order, Flusfeder follows in the footsteps of some victors of luck and those who were defeated by it, from ancient times to the modern day.

Luck asks fundamental questions about the world, ourselves, our place in it. In these questions, about our relationships to fortune, to risk, to opportunity, to chance, destiny and fate, we find ourselves deciding who we are and how we might choose to live.

‘Thrilling, intelligent and wilfully unique … I loved it’ James Runcie, author of The Great Passion

‘Ruminative … page-turning’ TLS

‘Fascinating … An eminently enjoyable and engrossing page-turner’ The Jewish Chronicle

Format: Digital download
Release Date: 31 Mar 2022
Pages: None
ISBN: 978-0-00-824520-7
David Flusfeder has published seven novels, including The Gift and, most recently, John the Pupil. His opera, Army of Lovers, written in collaboration with the composer Mark Springer, received its UK premiere in November 2019. He has been a television critic for The Times and a poker columnist for the Sunday Telegraph.

”'Luck is a wonderful intermingling of the historic, philosophical and literary, with tales of the author and his engaging, complicated, extraordinary father. A joy” - Philippe Sands, author of The Last Colony

”'An extraordinary collection of insights into luck, skilfully combining personal stories and historical studies into a partly random structure. It has a glorious unpredictability, producing a stimulating feeling of uncertainty about what the next gem will turn out to be” - David Spiegelhalter, author of The Art of Statistics

‘Ruminative … page-turning’TLS -

”'In Luck, [Flusfeder] bypasses the scientific harsh truth about randomness and probability and instead has written a book about the human side of luck … Eccentric, insightful meditations” - New Scientist

”'Thrilling, intelligent and wilfully unique, with the bonus ball of being unexpectedly moving, David Flusfeder’s thirteen investigations are the result of a lifetime of original thinking. I loved it” - James Runcie, author of The Great Passion

”'Fascinating … An eminently enjoyable and engrossing page-turner” - The Jewish Chronicle

”'Flusfeder stands up for superstition” - Telegraph

”'This deep, particular and witty examination of the nature of luck and its role in human existence is an absolute joy, from random start to mysterious finish. A most unusual book” - Louisa Young, author of Twelve Months and a Day