The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach

78%

36 Critic Reviews

...Fielding is entertaining and touching in its portraits of camaraderie and love, betrayal and victory.
-NPR

Synopsis

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.
 

About Chad Harbach

See more books from this Author
Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin and was educated at Harvard and the University of Virginia. He is a cofounder and coeditor of n+1.
 
Published September 7, 2011 by Little, Brown and Company. 516 pages
Genres: Other, Sports & Outdoors, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jan 01 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for The Art Of Fielding
All: 36 | Positive: 27 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Excellent
Aug 15 2011

A promising debut—and one guaranteed to draw attention, for it commanded an unusually big advance and will likely be pushed accordingly.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Gregory Cowles on Nov 09 2011

...“The Art of Fielding” is surprisingly old-fashioned and almost freakishly well behaved.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Nov 05 2011

Chad Harbach’s book “The Art of Fielding” is not only a wonderful baseball novel... but it’s also a magical, melancholy story about friendship and coming of age that marks the debut of an immensely talented writer.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Adam Mars-Jones on Jan 28 2012

a vigorous hybrid, entertaining and engrossing, though almost absurdly high-minded.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Theo Tait on Jan 12 2012

The plot perhaps cleaves too closely to the generic conventions of the team sports movie, right down to the climactic scene where everything depends on one moment's play.

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Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Nili Wexler on Feb 06 2012

And I feel that though much of The Art of Fielding is laid out in no-nonsense but still very evocative prose, beautiful language is woven in throughout...

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Dan Kois on Aug 31 2011

...Fielding is entertaining and touching in its portraits of camaraderie and love, betrayal and victory.

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Entertainment Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Rob Brunner on Aug 31 2011

Harbach might not dig deep enough into his characters' heads, but he knows how to get into a reader's.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Chris Barton on Oct 16 2011

...a rich, warmly human story that resonates even if you have no idea what a 6-4-3 double play looks like.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle on Sep 05 2011

These echoes of the 19th-century greats lend unexpected richness to a book that ends up high in the standings.

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by Robert Epstein on Jan 15 2012

The themes are lightweight and the conclusion too mid-afternoon, made-for-TV movie.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Nat Segnit on Jan 13 2012

It is cunningly constructed: one of the things that makes it so infuriatingly readable is the assurance with which Harbach entangles his five main characters' fates...

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Elena Seymenliyska on Jan 11 2012

It is deliciously old-fashioned: it simply gets on with the business of creating vivid, layered characters and telling a good, engrossing story.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by David Daley on Sep 05 2011

Harbach, in his first time at bat, has made the near-impossible act of writing a very good American novel feel almost effortless.

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Slate

Excellent
Reviewed by Judith Shulevitz on Sep 05 2011

...a surprisingly sunny story, with the sweetness of tone and conformity to the rules of genre one associates more with juvenile sports fiction.

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About.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jessica Gribble

The pace is perfect, the characters are both idiosyncratic and completely believable, and the emotions feel true throughout.

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Chicago Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse

...it's all in all the most delightful and serious first book of fiction that I have read in a while.

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London Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by J. Lennon on Jan 26 2012

Harbach is a solid writer, inoffensively funny, pretty good at character, a prodigy at suspense.

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Oprah.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Sara Nelson

...astonishingly assured yet seemingly effortless novel...

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Chicago Sun Times

Excellent
Reviewed by John Barron on Sep 15 2011

It’s hard to figure who wouldn’t take to this captivating, breezy debut by Chad Harbach... It has it all...

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The Atlantic

Below average
Reviewed by B. Myers on May 01 2012

Unfortunately, the young man ceases to be an enigma even before the page numbers get into double digits.

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Los Angeles Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Josh Wilker on Jun 05 2012

I wanted the fantasy at the core of The Art of Fielding — life on the cusp of great green beauty — to continue...

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Spectrum Culture

Excellent
Reviewed by David Harris on May 03 2012

a compulsively readable look into America’s favorite pastime and the dreams of validation that fill the hearts of both boys and men.

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The Kenyon Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Jesse Donaldson

...he has crafted a world that manages to be both familiar and unique.

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LongIslandPress.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Spencer Rumsey on Jul 22 2012

It’s really a funny, inspired look at success, failure and romance, which spans Buddhism and Herman Melville as well as America’s pastime.

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Seamheads.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Ted Leavengood on Oct 02 2011

This book is a soulful construction. It is a fine baseball book. But more than that it is as fine a novel as I have read in a while. If you approach it as literature first and baseball second, you will be rewarded on two levels.

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Thrive Detroit

Excellent
Reviewed by Sara Constantakis on Aug 04 2012

It’s a superbly written, emotionally gripping, sometimes breathtaking tale that you won’t soon forget.

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Contrary Magazine

Below average
Reviewed by Hilary George-Parkin on May 01 2012

...the novel is a cozy read for an English major, as well as, I would imagine, a die-hard baseball fan.

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Harvard Review Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Mark Chiusano

The Art of Fielding similarly wants to be read, to be accessible, and it succeeds.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall on Sep 16 2011

...while every page of this novel is infused with a love for both baseball and Moby Dick, Harbach is wise enough to look elsewhere for pacing. Weighing in at more than 500 pages, it is still a quick, agile read.

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Pretty Books

Good
Reviewed by Stacey on Jun 16 2012

The Art of Fielding, comparable to The Catcher in the Rye and The History Boys, is a charming coming of age story that is a joy to read, for both sports fans and non-fans alike.

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Biblioklept

Below average
Reviewed by Edwin Turner on Oct 17 2011

There is no challenge to the reader; even worse, Harbach seems to rely on some sense of fellow-feeling or shared common ground from his readers to land his points.

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Wales Arts Review

Below average
Reviewed by Gary Raymond

The Art of Fielding offers nothing new outside of the interests of the world of the characters themselves.

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Kevin from Canada

Good
Reviewed by Kevin on Feb 18 2012

The result for this reader is a book that is not only entertaining but, in its own way, thought-provoking.

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Shiny Book Review

Below average
Reviewed by Barb on May 04 2012

As it is, it’s merely a very good debut novel that shows Harbach has a whole lot of work to do when it comes to understanding women, romance, or what keeps couples together despite adversity.

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The Literary Stew

Below average
Mar 14 2012

In fact some of the prose was wooden at times... Although I didn't love the book, I liked it a lot.

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Reader Rating for The Art Of Fielding
81%

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