Author Archives: Lionel Shriver

The Blot: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem review – a gambler out of luck

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The ‘slick, fussy’ Raffles in Singapore, one of the hotels frequented by The Blot’s protagonist, Alexander. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Jonathan Lethem runs out of moves in this story of a backgammon hustler facing the surgeon’s knife. This review’s scanning as a pick or a pan will depend on whether you read fiction for the process or the payoff. Jonathan Lethem’s 10th novel, The Blot, is engaging, entertaining and sharp for its first two-thirds. Then it goes to hell.

The Blot was published in the US as A Gambler’s Anatomy. Lethem’s protagonist being a professional backgammon player is a nice twist on a long narrative tradition of gambling stories, which more often prefer poker, roulette or blackjack.

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