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The Longshotby Katie Kitamura
Synopses & Reviews
Abrilliant, spare debut novel that follows a former mixed martial arts star and his longtime coach over the course of three fraught days as they prepare for his momentous comeback match.
Four years after Rivera knocked Cal from dominance, Cal’s coach, Riley, has set up a rematch—it will be good for Cal, and he’s ready for it. He’s been training harder than ever, trying to shake the lethargy that’s plagued him ever since he lost. Knowing he’s going to face Rivera again, he gets his focus and energy back. He agrees with Riley: he’s ready.
But Rivera has never lost a fight, and in the final days before the match, both Cal and Riley secretly begin to doubt that he can be beaten now. The stakes are high for them—not only do they have no idea what else they’ll do with themselves besides MMA, they’re also desperate not to let each other down.
In taut, rhythmic language, Katie Kitamura—a journalist who has followed MMA for years—renders the urgency, discipline, and mutual affection of athlete and coach with depth and subtlety. As an excruciating tension builds toward the final electrifying scene, their plight becomes our plight, the looming fight becomes every challenge each of us has ever taken on, however uncertain the outcome.
This striking debut upholds a tradition of literary writing about gritty subject matter that includes Denis Johnson and Norman Mailer and goes back through Dos Passos, Steinbeck, and Hemingway. Fans of literary fiction will be drawn to The Finish’s stylized, sensitive portrait of two men striving to stay true to themselves and each other in the only way they know how.
"Four years earlier, top Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Cal took on the powerful Rivera, who won the fight by judges' decision. Now, at 29, Cal's out to stage a comeback, la Rocky Balboa. Spare and beautifully written, this debut novel follows Cal and his loyal trainer, Riley, as they head to Tijuana for the rematch. Cal and Riley privately wonder if they've made a huge miscalculation; Rivera this time is after a knockout, and Cal doubts that his body can withstand Rivera's pounding, and questions if the fire in him is passion or just an overwhelming fear of retirement. In the world Kitamura creates, only these three men exist; there is no family or friends. She reveals Cal's heart and mind as he struggles to understand himself as a man and as a fighter and paints the portrait of Riley as a loving but gruff friend and mentor. Kitamura, a journalist who for years has followed MMA matches, brings a physicality to her story with descriptions of the action so vivid the reader feels the pain of every punch and kick." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A brilliant, spare debut novel that follows a former mixed martial arts star and his longtime coach over the course of three fraught days as they prepare for his momentous comeback match.
Cal and his trainer, Riley, are on their way to Mexico for a make-or-break rematch with legendary fighter Rivera. Four years ago, Cal became the only mixed martial arts fighter to take Rivera the distance — but the fight nearly ended him. Only Riley, who has been at his side for the last ten years, knows how much that fight changed things for Cal. And only Riley really knows what's now at stake, for both of them.
Katie Kitamura's brilliant and stirring debut novel follows Cal and Riley through the three fraught days leading up to this momentous match, as each privately begins to doubt that Cal can win. As the tension builds toward the final electrifying scene, the looming fight becomes every challenge each of us has ever taken on, no matter how uncertain the outcome.
In hypnotic, pared-down prose, The Longshot offers a striking portrait of two men striving to stay true to themselves and each other in the only way they know how.
About the Author
Katie Kitamura is a writer based in
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