The Noble Hustle: Book summary and reviews of The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead

The Noble Hustle

Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death

By Colson Whitehead

The Noble Hustle
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  • Published in USA  May 2014,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

"I have a good poker face because I am half dead inside." So begins the hilarious and unexpectedly moving adventures of an amateur player who lucked into a seat at the biggest card game in town - the World Series of Poker.

In 2011 Grantland magazine sent award-winning novelist Colson Whitehead to brave the harrowing, seven-day gauntlet of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. It was the assignment of a lifetime, except for one hitch - he'd never played in a casino tournament before.

With just six weeks to train, our humble narrator plunged into the gritty subculture of high-stakes Texas Hold'em. There's poker here, sure, which means joy and heartbreak, grizzled cowboys from the game's golden age, and teenage hotshots weaned on internet gambling. Not to mention the overlooked problem of coordinating Atlantic City bus schedules with your kid's drop-off and pick-up at school.

And then there's Vegas.

In a world full of long shots and short odds, The Noble Hustle is a sure bet, a raucously funny social satire whose main target is the author himself. Whether you've been playing cards your whole life or have never picked up a hand, you're sure to agree that this book contains some of the best writing about beef jerky ever put to paper.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Whitehead serves up an engrossing mix of casual yet astute reportage and hang-dog philosophizing, showing us that, for all of poker's intricate calculations and shrewd stratagems, everything still hangs on the turn of a card." - Publishers Weekly

"Entertaining and absorbing, Whitehead's look at the subculture of gambling and casino tournaments will appeal even to nongambling readers. Also recommended for those who enjoy memoir." - Library Journal

"A minor work by a major novelist, a busman's holiday, but engaging in its color and character." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Colson Whitehead Author Biography

Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels Sag Harbor, a PEN/Faulkner award finalist; The Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Apex Hides the Hurt, a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the PEN Oakland Award. He has also written a book of essays about his home town, The Colossus of New York. A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in Brooklyn.

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