Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin, and graduated from Harvard in 1997. He was a Henry Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, where he received an MFA in Fiction in 2004. He is currently the Executive Editor of n+1, which he co-founded, and lives in Brooklyn.
In this deft first novel, a baseball prodigy comes to Westish College, a small school in upper Wisconsin. Henry Skrimshander is recruited by Mike Schwartz, who plays at Westish and recognizes Henry as one of the greatest shortstops ever. Henry's roommate, the pot-smoking, gay, African American Owen Dunne, also joins the team. College president Guert Affenlight develops a passionate crush on Owen, with whom he improbably begins a clandestine relationship. Unfortunately, as Henry closes in on a fielding milestone, he loses his confidence and falls apart. Guert's long-lost daughter, who has returned to Westish after the collapse of her marriage and hooked up with Mike, tries to help Henry find his throwing arm again. Meanwhile, the ongoing affair between Owen and Guert becomes increasingly difficult to hide as the book climaxes at the Division III national championship. VERDICT Succeeding on many levels, this highly enjoyable and intelligent novel offers several coming-of-age tales set against the background of an exciting and convincing baseball drama. Harbach paints a humorous and resonant portrait of a small college community while effectively portraying the Wisconsin landscape and a lake that provides an almost mystical source of solace and renewal. This should be a popular novel. [See Prepub Alert, 3/14/11.]-Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
`It's left a little hole in my life the way a really good book will' Jonathan Franzen
`This is an outstanding novel about sport and, in Henry Skrimshander, Harbach has created a character who will keep sports psychologists in conversation for years' Mike Atherton, The Times
`Charming, warm-hearted, addictive' Guardian
`Once started The Art of Fielding is a book you want to read and read. It is deliciously old-fashioned: it simply gets on with the business of creating vivid, layered characters and telling a good, engrossing story' Daily Telegraph
`An intricate, poised, tingling debut ... leaves you longing, lingering, and a baseball convert long after the last page' Tea Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife, winner of the Orange Prize
`Chad Harbach has hit a game-ender with The Art of Fielding. It's pure fun, easy to read, as if the other Fielding had a hand in it - as if Tom Jones were about baseball and college life.' John Irving
Steeped in American tradition, this moving debut hits a home run...What in less skilled hands might have been a light comic novel evolves into a debut of great warmth and weight... This is a charming, moving and slyly profound novel. You might even say Chad Harbach hit this one out of the park' Sunday Telegraph
`Every bit as good as billed. A big, beautiful blowout of a book, sure and generous, it reads like a throwback to the mid-20th century, when American literature was in its pomp... an exceptional debut' Guardian
`A terrifically engaging novel... you will be rewarded by a page-turning, beguiling and wonderfully warm-hearted read'. Sunday Times
`The baseball sequences are terrific... Harbach captures precisely the strangely becalmed grace that sets sportsmen like Henry apart...Very good indeed' Independent
Harbach's popular debut is part baseball novel, part campus satire, part exploration of male friendship, and part warped 21st-century love story. Juggling all of this would be a heavy burden for any narrator, and while Holter Graham can't quite keep all the balls in the air, he does deliver an engaging performance. Graham handles Harbach's prose gingerly, delicately threading his way through the book's elegant descriptions of life on the baseball diamond. Additionally, Graham delivers distinct voices for Harbach's characters, including wizardly shortstop Henry Skrimshander, college president Guert Affenlight, and Affenlight's searching daughter, Pella. If something of the book's grandeur is lost in the transition to audio, Graham's narration allows listeners-from baseball novices to scholars-an opportunity to immerse themselves in the supremely alluring world of Westish College. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.