The author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude returns with a devilishly entertaining novel about an international backgammon hustler who thinks he's psychic. Too bad about the tumor in his face.
Alexander Bruno travels the world playing high stakes backgammon and hunting for amateur "whales" who think they can challenge him. Lately he's had a run of bad luck, not helped by the blot that has emerged in his field of vision, which forces him to look at the board sideways. As the blot grows larger, his game gets worse, until, at an opulent mansion in Berlin, he passes out in the middle of a match and receives an alarming diagnosis. Out of money and out of friends, he turns to the only person who can help (and the last person he wants to see): a high-rolling former childhood acquaintance who agrees to pay for Bruno's experimental surgery in Berkeley. But Berkeley is the place where Bruno discovered his psychic gift and where he vowed never to return. There, forced to confront patchouli flashbacks and his uncertain future, he must ask himself: Is he playing the game, or is the game playing him?