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‘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
Praise for John The Pupil: 'There is never a dull moment on this trip ... The vicissitudes of John's journey are a delight to follow ... The result is a vividly atmospheric sense of period and, in character of John the Pupil, a richly comical and engaging hero ... Learned, funny and strikingly original, this is a hugely enjoyable read' Rose Wild, The Times 'The cover blurb for his seventh novel compares David Flusfeder with Umberto Eco and Quentin Tarantino ... this is a novel far more original and ambitious than such a description would suggest ... His sentences [are] elegant, unusual, often beautifully and brilliantly measured ... It is hard not to see all too much of our contemporary conundrums wrapped up in John's. His narrative is made of diversions and other people's words ... Can we really believe it? Does he - John or the translator - even believe it? This uncertainty brings out further questions - What should I allow others to know? How honest can I be? How much of my experience is my own? - questions that are explored with generosity and rigour in this superbly written and intellectually stimulating novel.' Stuart Evers, Independent 'Original, unusual, intriguing: Flusfeder just keeps getting better and better' Mail on Sunday 'Flusfeder writes impressively measured prose, provides a convincing look inside the medieval mind, and provokes some interesting ideas' Daily Mail 'Flusfeder brilliantly recreates both the mental and physical landscapes of medieval Europe' Mail on Sunday 'Plunges the 21st-century reader into a world where very little is recognisable. The fact that Flusfeder achieves this so triumphantly is highly impressive' Telegraph
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