This book is a highly satisfying read with a wonderful ending. Magic runs throughout the story... or is it the math of odds and gambling? I spent a lovely weekend reading this novel. I'm left feeling like I might just get lucky, too. And I'll never forget, to the discerning hand, some playing cards are heavier than others. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Queen of Spades revamps the classic Pushkin fable of the same name, transplanted to a mysterious Seattle-area casino populated by a pit boss with six months to live, a dealer obsessing over the mysterious methods of an elderly customer known as the Countess, and a recovering gambler who finds herself trapped in a cultish twelve-step program. With a breathtaking climax that rivals the best Hong Kong gambling movies, Michael Shou-Yung Shum’s debut novel delivers the thrilling highs and lows that come when we cede control of our futures to the roll of the dice and the turn of a card.
"Queen of Spades is a paean to the deeply human thrill of gambling — part fond portrait of casino life, part poker-faced mysticism, part exploration of the risks we’re willing to take in search of meaning. Michael Shum has imagined a world in which cosmic forces are at play, populated it with odd and charming seekers and turned them loose among the games of chance to seek their destinies. Like drawing just the right card to a longshot inside straight, what they find — and what we read — seems at once astonishing and dazzlingly preordained. A remarkable and original debut, rendered in impossibly lucid prose." Michael Knight, author of The Typist and Divining Rod
"Michael Shou-Yung Shum’s Queen of Spades is a remarkable debut by an enormously talented young writer who has produced a literary delight that circles the dead center of a very dangerous pleasure — casino gambling. The novel is a perfectly rendered view of gambling from the inside, the dealers and their overseers in the casinos, hard at work but with vastly different objectives. Some are company men and women, others — and some here in Queen of Spades — not so much. The novel is a lovely and complex gambling fairy tale that twists and turns in intriguing ways on its way to a most satisfying conclusion." Frederick Barthelme, author of Bob the Gambler and Moon Deluxe
"In a spellbinding structure that spirals around the mysterious Royal Casino, Queen of Spades weaves a cast of high-stakes dealers and gamblers closer and closer together as if within a spider’s web. Though their games are staked on chance, these characters’ lives intersect by fate, destiny and magic. Michael Shou-Yung Shum has written a luminous and mesmerizing debut, a novel I couldn’t put down." Anne Valente, author of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
"A magical debut — literally. This tale is both spare and sprawling, gritty and otherworldly, both an homage to the complex psychology of gambling and a cautionary tale for those watching from the rail. A ridiculously satisfying read." Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and Songs of Willow Frost
About the Author
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Michael Shou-Yung Shum eventually found himself dealing poker in a dead-end casino in Lake Stevens, Washington. Two doctorates bookend this strange turn of events: the first in Psychology from Northwestern, and the second in English from University of Tennessee. Along the way, Michael spent a dozen years in Chicago, touring the country as a rave DJ. He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his spouse and three cats. Queen of Spades is his first novel.
Michael Shou-Yung Shum on PowellsBooks.Blog
For the practiced gambler, Chance can feel profoundly, convincingly intuitive. At certain times, we believe we can sense its rhythms and ebbs, its flow. We can even measure and assess its movement, albeit crudely. In regulated gambling of the type offered in casinos, each game serves as a primitive form of digitization...