Someone—maybe a few people? Bookavore, for sure: I think she planted the idea of this book in my head—were seriously talking up Shehan Karunatilaka’s “The Legend of Pradeep Mathew” a few months back. (It was published in Sri Lanka and elsewhere as “Chinaman” a couple of years ago, but it came out in the US in May.) I’ve recently spent every subway ride, every spare reading moment totally wrapped up in this book. At Borough Hall on Sunday someone mentioned they’d seen it on the table of Graywolf Press, the American publisher. Would I recommend it? they asked. And I went off, kind of crazily enthusiastic. YES. Do you like cricket? they asked. Not particularly. But he explains it to you? one of them wondered. And that’s the thing: not really. He gives you a lot of information about the sport, but sort of in the wrong order, and the narrator is charmingly unreliable. I’m still confused. Overs! Googlies! Even with the little diagrams, it’s baffling, and the sport doesn’t even seem that complicated. There’s this part near the beginning:
If you’ve never seen a cricket match; if you have and it has made you snore; if you can’t understand why anyone would watch, let alone obsess over this dull game, then this is the book for you.
I am writing something much longer and hopefully much more thoughtful about this book, amongst other cricket books (specifically, “Netherland”, plus some stuff from Edwardian England, Wodehouse and Forster, etc., etc.), but I wanted to give Pradeep Mathew the quick hard sell, a digital addendum to my crazed ravings this past weekend. Please, please go get this book right now.