Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue

Game, Set & Match: Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue

Translated by Natasha Wimmer.

Sudden Death is the History of Tennis wound round a journey through Spain, Mexico, Italy, and a Tennis match between Caravaggio and Francisco de Quevedo. A Tennis match that would lead to Caravaggio’s exile, lasting to just before his death.

“Novels demolish monuments because all novels, even the most chaste, are a tiny bit pornographic.”

sdI’m not sure if this is non-fiction, fiction or a mix of both (I don’t want know, lest I spoil the illusion). It’s described as a novel, but it is as if Enrigue is talking to us. It is a gloriously intense translation, very rich in language. I found myself bored with most of the Tennis history, while very engaged in the manipulation of the history, and the form of the book. It’s presented through many different means of writing, Enrigue talks to the reader, he fictionalised historical events, inserts (fiction or non-fiction) email chains, and script-like dialogue.

Just as the book discusses the origins of Tennis, its forms and mentions, Enrigue is forming the book in a way that is just as experimental as a new sport. Presented to you in its rough form without the rules.

“I don’t know what this book is about. I know that I wrote it I was angry because the bad guys always win. Maybe all books are written simple because in every game the bad guys have the advantage and that is too much to bear.”

That sentence is exactly why this book was worth reading, it’s so open it bleeds.

How do you feel about Tennis?

I requested this copy from Netgally in exchange for an honest review.

6 thoughts on “Game, Set & Match: Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue

  1. I only ever watch tennis when someone has me watch it, so my feelings about tennis are exactly the feelings of whomever I’ve sat next to while watching tennis games on TV. Due to some tennis-watching with my aunt as a kid I believe that Pete Sampras is the greatest tennis player of all time, no arguments will be accepted, and apart from that I don’t know very much about it!

    Did you read Laurent Binet’s book HHhH? It sounds like it’s quite similar to this one, where it’s a weird mix of fiction and nonfiction. I liked it A LOT. It’s about these two men who conspired to assassinate this Nazi called Reinhard Heydrich who was apparently a major engineer of the Final Solution. So, so good.


    1. Ha! I’m the same with all sport.

      I tried to read HHhH, but I found it difficult to get into so gave up. Maybe I should try again?


  2. I think it’s awesome that it was so rich in language, because being a book that was focussed around sport, it would need something extra… or maybe that is just the opinion of someone who is not a big sport fan. xD


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