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Sooley by John Grisham


“Hard to put down ... the pages turn quickly ... building to a climax that won’t leave readers doubting whether this is a John Grisham novel.” Associated Press

About the Book

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel “Sooley” Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams—and even bigger challenges off the court.

In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true.

Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed.

During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp.

Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it’s just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn’t immediately needed.

But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he’s dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins.

But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family?

Gripping and moving, Sooley showcases John Grisham’s unparalleled storytelling powers in a whole new light. This is Grisham at the top of his game.

Read an Excerpt


In April, when Samuel Sooleymon was invited to try out for the national team, he was seventeen years old, stood six feet two inches tall, and was considered to be a promising point guard, known for his quickness and vertical leap, but also for his erratic passing and mediocre shooting.

In July, when the team left Juba, the capital of South Sudan, for the trip to America, he was six feet four inches tall, just as quick but even more erratic handling the ball and no more accurate from the arc. He was hardly aware of his growth, which was not unusual for a teenager, but he did realize that his well-worn basketball shoes were tighter and his only pair of pants now fell well above his ankles.

But back in April when the invitation arrived, his neighborhood erupted in celebration. He lived in Lotta, a remote village on the outskirts of Rumbek, a city of 30,000. He had spent his entire life in Lotta doing little more than playing basketball and soccer. His mother, Beatrice, was a homemaker, with little education, like all the women in the village. His father, Ayak, taught school in a two-room open-air hut built by some...

Excerpted from Sooley by John Grisham. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


“Hard to put down ... the pages turn quickly ... building to a climax that won’t leave readers doubting whether this is a John Grisham novel.”

—Associated Press

"An intensely moving story, told with the same eye for character and descriptive detail Grisham brings to his crime novels. His occasional forays into general fiction are usually interesting, but this one is considerably more than that. It’s skillfully written, with a deeply compelling central character and a story that is full of raw emotion and suspense."


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