Sudden Death

Author(s): Alvaro Enrigue


A funny and mind-bending novel about the clash of empires and ideas in the sixteenth century, told over the course of one dazzling tennis match. A brutal tennis match in Rome. Two formidable opponents: the wild Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo. Galileo, Saint Matthew and Mary Magdalene heckle from the sidelines. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII execute Anne Boleyn, and her executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time. Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as Hernan Cortes and his Mayan translator and lover scheme and conquer, fight and fuck, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the course of history. Over the course of one dazzling tennis match - through assassinations and executions, carnal liaisons and papal dramas, artistic and religious revolutions, love and war - Sudden Death tells the grand adventure of the clash of empires and the dawn of the modern era.


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A funny and mind-bending novel about the clash of empires and ideas in the sixteenth century, told over the course of one dazzling tennis match

"Brilliant... Enrigue has crafted a tennis allegory for the modern age: a heady, raucous meditation on chaos, power, language and the ways in which history is created and preserved... Enrigue blends historical elements with fantasy to conjure a light, knowing and very funny history in which the present is always lurking beneath the surface... Enrigue's prose is endlessly inventive, full of aphorisms, wry anecdotes and swaggering declarations." Financial Times "Marks the arrival of a major player on the capital-L courts of literature" Vice "An exhilarating, funny, and surprisingly sexy read. Enrigue turns historical figures into real, flesh-and-blood people and really gets you thinking about art and history: what qualifies as either - and why" Buzzfeed "Ingenius and clever... Engagingly original... There are traces of Pynchon's zany allure... Sudden Death is rich and lively with warmth which counters the bleakness of history." -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times "Glorious... [Enrigue's] approach has both great entertainment value and intellectual appeal, especially as a corrective to a Eurocentric view of history... A splendid introduction to Mr. Enrigue's varied body of work" New York Times "A complex historical pageant of astonishing richness." -- Alberto Manguel Guardian "Intellectually formidable... Enrigue is a cerebral and sanguine Spanish-Language postmodernist... It takes literary bravery to be this candid as a writer." -- Randy Boyagoda New Statesman "Ambitious... Champion storytelling... What makes the novel so enthralling is the intimate humanity of its characters... Throughout this mercurial novel, playing fast and loose with facts lets richer truths about the world emerge." Washington Post "By turns intellectual and earthy, Enrigue's fictionalized account of Renaissance Europe and 16th century Mexico is the best kind of history lesson: erudite without being stuffy, an entertaining work that incorporates the Counter-Reformation, the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, art history and even a grammar lesson on Spanish diminutives into one mesmerizing narrative." San Francisco Chronicle "An absolute pleasure to read. It is an intriguing story and the interspersed historical aspects were fascinating and kept me interested throughout. The story is beautifully written but the manner in which the author described the tennis match was outstanding." -- Jo Kirk Nudge

Alvaro Enrigue was born in Mexico and lives in New York City. He has taught at New York University, Princeton University, the University of Maryland and Columbia University. Sudden Death - his first novel to be translated into English - was awarded the prestigious Herralde Prize in Spain, the Elena Poniatowska International Novel Award in Mexico, and the Barcelona Prize for Fiction.

General Fields

  • : 9781846558832
  • : Vintage Publishing
  • : Harvill Secker
  • : 0.276
  • : April 2016
  • : 216mm X 135mm X 18mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Alvaro Enrigue
  • : Paperback
  • : 863.7
  • : 256