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Growing up in Belgium, soccer was Jean-Philippe Touissant’s life, a passion not shared by his bookish family. Now an acclaimed novelist, essayist, and filmmaker, he reflects upon his lifelong love for the game with an intellectual’s keen mind and a sports fan’s heart. What, he ponders, has a lifetime of soccer fandom taught him about life and the passage of time itself.
Soccer takes readers on an idiosyncratic journey that delves deep into the author’s childhood memories, but also transports us to World Cup matches in Japan, Germany, South Africa, and Brazil. Along the way, it kicks around such provocative questions as: How does soccer fandom both support and transcend nationalism? How are our memories of soccer matches both collective and distinctly personal? And how can a game this beautiful and this ephemeral be adequately captured in words?
Part travelogue, part memoir, and part philosophical essay, Soccer is entirely unique, a thrilling departure from the usual clichés of sports writing. Even readers with little knowledge of the game will be enthralled by Touissant’s profound musings and lyrical prose.
About the Author
JEAN-PHILIPPE TOUSSAINT is a Belgian novelist, photographer and filmmaker. The author of ten novels, he is the winner of numerous literary prizes, including the Prix Médicis for Running Away and the Prix Décembre for The Truth about Marie.
SHAUN WHITESIDE is a Northern Irish translator in French, German, Italian and Dutch. His translations from French include novels by Amélie Nothomb, Patrick Rambaud, Michèle Desbordes, Georges-Marc Benamou, and Georges Simenon, as well as works of non-fiction by Pierre Bourdieu and Anne Sinclair.
"Beautifully granular detail... words that would 'have the power to reactivate the magic of football.'"
— Andrew Gallix
"Toussaint... writes the way Zidane played. He’s insouciant and magical, maybe even a little arrogant. Untouchable, and yet somehow vulnerable... Reading this book is a unique experience."
— Damian Tarnopolsky
"His fascination seems to be greatest with the ephemerality of the experience—the feeling of being-in-the-moment, and the experiences that are impossible to recapture."
"Toussaint has built a very distinguished literary career around the representation of the narcissistic subject... [his] world reaches its apogee of excellence every four years during the World Cup."
— Warren Motte
"A weighty philosophical exploration into the nature of beauty and existence against a footballing context."
— Dave Marples
"Interesting thoughts on the changing ways in which technology shapes our experience of the game."
— Joe Kennedy
"Football... is more about watching football than playing it... football as a part of life... how football, in the end, is more than a game precisely because it is just a game—anyone can join in."
— Ian Maleney