Based on ‘The Queen of Katwe’, a finalist for a National Magazine Award and included in Dave Eggers’ The Best American Nonrequired Reading, this is the true story of a female prodigy from the Ugandan slum of Katwe
Phiona Mutesi sleeps in a mud hut with her mother and siblings, and struggles to find a meal each day. She is also one of the best chess players in the world.
One day in 2005, while searching for food, nine-year-old Phiona followed her brother to a dusty verandah where she met Robert Katende, a refugee who had also grown up in the slums. Robert had an improbable aspiration: to empower Katwe’s kids through chess — a game so foreign that there was no word for it in their native language. Robert taught the game each day. At first the children came for the free porridge, but many grew to love chess, a game that — as in their daily lives — meant navigating obstacles. One talented young girl stood out: Phiona.
By the age of 11, Phiona was Uganda’s junior champion; at 15, she was the national champion. In 2010, she travelled to Siberia to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team-chess event. Phiona’s dream is to become a chess grandmaster. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with life in one of the world’s most unstable countries — a place where girls are taught to be mothers, not dreamers, and the threats of AIDS, kidnapping, and starvation loom constantly.
Like Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, this is an intimate and heart-rending portrait of human life on the urban fringes in the 21st century.
'In The Queen of Katwe Tim Crothers gives us an inspiring and heart-wrenching story'
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'Crothers portrays Phiona's story with depth and sensitivity ... in bringing the story to a world audience, Crothers has shone light on a neglected corner of the globe, and he reveals what a difference hope, care and encouragement can make to people's lives.'
'If you don’t already know the name [Phiona Mutesi], it’s time you learned about this amazing person and how she achieved such goals in the face of near impossibility.'
'[A] moving account of an impoverished Ugandan girl's unlikely rise to prominence ... a poignant reminder of the power of hope.'
‘Not just inspirational but a corrective to our most damning assumptions ... A must-read’
'Masterful ... an important book. We tend to forget how most of the world lives. Phiona’s story is a moving reminder that every life holds value, and we have the opportunity to influence the endgame. A gritty inspiration.'
Life is Story
'An extraordinary account of one young woman’s exceptional achievement. It is also a lament for this world in which only a tiny number of incredibly fortunate and exceptionally determined children have any chance of escaping the dehumanising poverty that prevails in Katwe and places like it.'
'An inspirational profile of an amazing chess player from one of the world's worst slums'
'Powerfully captures the crushing poverty in which Mutesi and her family still live.'
'Tim Crothers' story is engrossing and inspiring ... a heart-warming testament to Phiona's determination and courage.'
'A moving and universal story of the power of potential and the wonder of perseverance. This story will inspire you -- and will make you wonder how many more Phionas there are among us.'
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, NYT-bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
'[A] story of a young woman's triumph over the unimaginably cruel fortune ... would pierce a heart of stone.'
Hillary Jordan, NYT-bestselling author of Mudbound and When She Woke
'one of the most inspiring, thought-provoking, humbling books I’ve ever read'