The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 9, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 232 pages
27 Reviews
Based on a popular ESPN magazine article selected by Dave Eggers for The Best American Nonrequired Reading and a finalist for a National Magazine Award, the inspiring true story of Phiona Mutesi, a teenage chess prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda.

PHIONA MUTESI sleeps in a decrepit shack with her mother and three siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been out of school most of her life because her mother cannot afford it, so she is only now learning to read and write. Phiona Mutesi 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 veranda where she met Robert Katende, who had also grown up in the Kampala slums. Katende, a war refugee turned missionary, had an improbable dream: to empower kids through chess—a game so foreign there is no word for it in their native language. Laying a chessboard in the dirt of the Katwe slum, Robert painstakingly taught the game each day. When he left at night, slum kids played on with bottlecaps on scraps of cardboard. At first they came for a free bowl of porridge, but many grew to love chess, a game that—like their daily lives—means persevering against great obstacles. Of these kids, one stood out as an immense talent: Phiona.

By the age of eleven Phiona was her country’s junior champion and at fifteen, the national champion. In September 2010, she traveled to Siberia, a rare journey out of Katwe, to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team-chess event. Phiona’s dream is to one day become a Grandmaster, the most elite title in chess. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday 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 over the people.

Like Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, The Queen of Katwe is an intimate and heartrending portrait of human life on the poor fringes of the twenty-first century.
  

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Review: The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster

User Review  - Sue - Goodreads

Katwe is a slum neighborhood in Kampala, Uganda. Phiona Mutesi is a young woman from that neighborhood who followed her older brother one afternoon as he snuck off to a soccer program. She got there ... Read full review

Review: The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster

User Review  - Terrill - Goodreads

This is an amazing book--the writing may be a 3, but the story it tells is definitely a 5. As a teacher, one of the things I found most interesting was the teaching techniques used by the chess coach ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
Land of the Frogs
9
Katende
25
Pioneers
55
Resurrection
69
Teach Her What You Know
83
Mzungu
97
Like a Boy But Not a Boy
119
Heaven
141
The Other Side
155
Hurdles
179
Dreams
213
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Tim Crothers is a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He is the author of The Man Watching, the biography of University of North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance, and coauthor of Hard Work, the autobiography of UNC basketball coach Roy Williams. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and two children.

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