Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Freebie: Spring by David Szalay

Congratulations to Sidney Woods, winner of last week's Friday Freebie, Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro.

This week's book giveaway is Spring by David Szalay, freshly published by the never-disappointing Graywolf Press.  Before I go any further, let me just say how much I like this novel's cover design--the overhead shot of that bright, arresting orange-red umbrella in a sea of other gray umbrellas--very eye-catching!  Now, on to what's behind the cover....

Spring is Szalay's U.S. debut after being named one of The Daily Telegraph’s twenty best British novelists under forty.  Here's the publisher's jacket copy:
James is a man with a checkered past—sporadic entrepreneur, one-time film producer, almost a dot-com millionaire—now alone in a flat in Bloomsbury, running a shady horse-racing-tips operation. Katherine is a manager at a luxury hotel, a job she’d intended to leave years ago, and is separated from her husband. The novel unfolds in 2006, at the end of the money-for-nothing years, as a chance meeting leads to an awkward tryst and James tries to make sense of a relationship where “no” means “maybe” and a “yes” can never be taken for granted.  David Szalay builds a novel of immense resonance as he cycles though perspectives that add layers of depth to the hesitations, missteps, and tensions as James tries to win Katherine. James’s other pursuit is money, and Spring follows his investments and schemes, from a half share in a thoroughbred to a suit-and-tie day job he’s taken to pay the bills.
Here's what Margot Livesey had to say about the book: "In Spring the gifted writer David Szalay explores the complex worlds of love and money, each with their surprises and vicissitudes.  This novel made me feel in the best way that I was eavesdropping on a series of fascinating conversations.  An insightful portrait of contemporary England."

In an article earlier this year for The Telegraph, Lorna Bradbury spent the day with Szalay at the racetrack and wrote:
His third novel, Spring, is a literary reworking of Dick Francis, complete with a bulimic jockey, a shady trainer who sleeps with his stable girl and a tipster who’s arrested for stalking a stranger who catches his eye in a supermarket. And it is a riposte to John Updike, who Szalay views as the “king of writing about sex”. It dissects the desolation of a doomed relationship and is remarkable in that it does not shy away from sex or hide behind comedy. The Telegraph last year included Szalay in its list of the 20 best novelists under 40–and his new book bears that out. It is the only novel I have read that brings to life–and without too many cringeworthy passages–the reality of a sexual affair.

If you'd like a chance at winning a new paperback copy of Spring, all you have to do is answer this question:

In that same article in The Telegraph, what is the name of the horse which Szalay puts his money on in the first race?

Email your answer to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Jan. 5--at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Jan. 6.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party.

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done either or both of those, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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