Using an online randomiser to decide the order of its chapters, Luck asks such questions as What does it mean to be lucky? How might we mitigate the effects of bad luck and maximise those of good? And does luck – the name given by fifteenth-century gamblers to account for that force that intervenes between desire and its consummation – actually exist? Flusfeder’s investigations takes him to Versailles, ancient Greece, Baden-Baden, Las Vegas, the Old Testament desert.
How did Dostoevsky finally overcome his addiction to roulette? Why did Wittgenstein start to sign off much of his correspondence with ‘Good luck’ from the spring of 1939? What is the secret of the mysterious Joan Ginther, the great lottery winner of Texas? We meet the sixteenth-century poet Thomas Bastard, who challenged Fortune, and lost; find Nietzsche on the slopes of Vesuvius; look at how novelists and artists and composers have incorporated notions of chance and luck into their work. The book’s origins are in Flusfeder’s father’s experiences in the Second World War, from Warsaw to Siberia to Monte Cassino, when the chances of his survival were so negligible as to make them statistically non-existent; and it climaxes in Las Vegas on Friday the 13th when the author takes to the poker table and breaks every gambling superstition he can find.
Luck is a wonderful intermingling of the historic, philosophical and literary, with tales of the author and his engaging, complicated, extraordinary father. A joy.’ - Philippe Sands
‘An extraordinary collection of insights into luck, skilfully combining personal stories and historical studies into a partly random structure. It has a glorious unpredictability, producing a stimulating feeling of uncertainty about what the next gem will turn out to be.’ - David Spiegelhalter
Thrilling, intelligent and wilfully unique, with the bonus ball of being unexpectedly moving, David Flusfeder’s thirteen investigations are the result of a lifetime of original thinking. I loved it.’ -James Runcie
David Flusfeder has written seven novels, including The Gift and, most recently, John the Pupil. His opera, Army of Lovers, written in collaboration with the composer Mark Springer, was first performed in 2019. He has been a television critic for The Times and a poker columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.