2011, Baseball, Books, Fiction, Sports

The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach

This is an excellent debut novel, featuring a richly constructed world and (mostly) believable characters. It works as both a baseball novel and a college novel. It has been a long time since I cared about characters this much.

This is not a postmodern work; it’s very much a traditional novel with a pretty straightforward arc and it doesn’t seem to come from the same world as so much modern literature, which questions the very nature of narrative. Instead, it tells a story, the story of these five people all at this one college. And though it does play with and subvert some of the conventions of both sports novels and college novels, it does this only to play with those conventions, so that our experience of them is richer.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the characters are a little too preternaturally gifted; four of the five characters are very smart and the one that isn’t is possibly the greatest shortstop in the history of college baseball. Yes, it’s more fun to read about exceptional people, but a normal person might have made the novel seem a little more realistic.

Still great stuff.

9/10

  • Author: Chad Harbach
  • Cover artist: Keith Hayes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Literary fiction
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: September 2011
  • Media type: Print (hardback)
  • Pages: 544
  • ISBN: 978-0-316-12667-0

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