I signed on with the Lloyd Jones fan club after reading his breath-stealing novel Mister Pip. I’ve waded in his writing ever since, more or less to the same level of enjoyment. Until I read The Book of Fame. The novel is based on actual events (a team of New Zealanders tour the UK in 1905), but it is not history. It involves a sport (said team—the “All-Blacks”—play rugby) but requires no expertise in scrums and touches and wingbacks.
I know little more about rugby now than I did before I read The Book of Fame. But I do know more about human nature, camaraderie, and humility in the glare of the spotlight, than I ever thought possible. The novel, like Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter or Baricco’s Silk, is art of the highest, most literary kind: ambitious, unique, utterly engaging, eloquent.
And, if such a thing were possible, better than Mister Pip.
This is a guest review by CS Richardson – VP & Creative Director, Canadian Publishing, Random House of Canada