Ballad of a Small Player
I waited patiently for the next hand to be played out, and I had a feeling it was going to be a Natural, a perfect nine. His name is Lord Doyle. His plan- to gamble away his last days in the dark and decadent casino halls of Macau. His game- baccarat punto blanco -- 'that slutty dirty queen of casino card games.' Though Doyle is not a Lord at all. He is a fake; a corrupt lawyer who has spent a career siphoning money from rich clients. And now he is on the run, determined to send the money and himself up in smoke. So begins a beguiling, elliptical velvet rope of a plot- a sharp suit, yellow kid gloves, another naughty lemonade and an endless loop of small wins and losses. When Lady Luck arrives in the form of Dao-Ming, a beautiful yet enigmatic lost soul, so begins a spectacular and unnatural winning streak in which millions come Doyle s way. But in these shadowy dens of risk and compulsion, in a land governed by superstition, Doyle knows that when the bets are high, the stakes are even greater. The Ballad of a Small Player is a sleek, dark-hearted masterpiece- a ghost story set in the land of the living, and a
A riveting study of risk and obsession, from a writer of effortless grace and menace
Long-listed for The Folio Prize 2015 (UK).
Born in England, Lawrence Osborne is a travel writer and novelist, and the author of the Bangkok Days and The Forgiven. His short story 'Volcano' was selected for Best American Short Stories 2012, and he has written for the New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, the New Yorker, Forbes, Harper's and other publications. www.lawrenceosborne.net