Based on a popular ESPN Magazine article - optioned by Disney films, a finalist for a National Magazine Award and chosen by Dave Eggers for inclusion in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 - the astonishing true story of Phiona Mutesi, a teenager from the slums of Kampala, Uganda, who - inspired by an unlikely mentor, a war refugee turned missionary - becomes an international chess champion.
Phiona Mutesi sleeps in a decrepit shack with her mother and four siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been in and out of school her whole 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, another child of the Ugandan slums, who works for an American organization that offers relief and religion through sports. Robert introduced Phiona to the game of chess and soon recognized her immense talent. By the age of 11 Phiona was her country’s junior chess champion and at 15, her country’s national champion. In September of 2010 she traveled to Siberia, just her second time ever on an airplane, 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, and to blaze a trail out of Katwe that other children in Robert’s chess community can follow. 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 of Katwe.
Acclaimed sports journalist Tim Crothers has written a riveting and inspiring account of one girl’s improbable journey to becoming a chess champion. The Queen of Katwe will thrill every listener who loves a great underdog story.
©2012 Tim Crothers (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
"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, New York Times best-selling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana)
"This story of a young woman's triumph over the unimaginably cruel fortune she was born into would pierce a heart of stone." (Hillary Jordan, New York Times best-selling author of Mudbound and When She Woke)
"The Queen of Katwe is gripping. We witness Phiona's incredible evolution as a player, as she competes against older and far more experienced competitors. It also offers readers a fascinating look at a war-torn and struggling nation, as well as the unlikely story of how her mentor, Robert Katende, a refugee of Uganda's civil war, has created a flourishing chess program for kids in one of Africa's most treacherous slums. This story has the power to inspire girls everywhere." (Alexandra Kosteniuk, Grandmaster, 12th Women's World Chess Champion)
I listened with my sons. We all liked this book, but wished it talked more about Fiona. I feel 4-5 chapters went on before we heard of Fiona for the first time.
I was interested in reading about Fiona and Robert's backgrounds and the uncensored look at the poverty they lived with every day. I was relieved that it wasn't watered down the way many books are to keep the western reader comfortable. What I found really upsetting was the role the missionaries played in the book. Those people are truly ghastly! They come to those poor slums, offering not food, not clean water, not medicine, not education, not prophylactics to prevent the diseases killing many of them; no. They offer them religion and scamper off to their hotels, leaving them to starve to death. The book was very preachy and spoke favourably of these heartless monsters. In one passage, Fiona was in desperate need of help. Were the missionaries keen to convert there to help? Nope. They passed the buck to their pal Jesus who unfortunately didn't get back to them in a timely manner. Ugh.
I guess I'd recommend this book to friends who are religious.
When Fiona went to the Sudan and experienced her first hotel room.
I don't often say this but the movie will probably be better than the book. PLEASE let the movie be better than the book!
I enjoyed most of this book, despite its difficult content. I really enjoyed the performance of the reader, but sometimes the writing was not very clean and hard to follow. It might be clearer in the written version, but I was unable to tell witch quotes were spoken originally in English and which were translated. Sometimes, it sounded like a very awkward translation when a character was speaking.
This was a touching story about a life hard struggle and how Chess helped someone through that struggle. I wish this book would have touched on the games of Chess Phiona played instead of unrelated stories describing the environment of the slums of Uganda.
This is quite possibly one of the best books I have ever listened to! I appreciate that the author is so tasteful with certain details. He keeps the content clean enough that younger readers could enjoy it (especially considering that it takes place in Africa and the terrible circumstances these people come from). This is a very inspiring story but not one that you can casually listen to. It requires a lot of attention just to keep the different stories straight.
Well told - gives a look into daily life in Uganda, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods. Within that backdrop arrives an amazing and kind man who dreams of a better life for himself and the children of these poor neighborhoods.
I thought it was so interesting, and glad I read it before the movie came out, which I will definitely see.
Yes, it is incredible!
The hopeless is given hope!
Every part of the redemptive story as faith, Life & chess intersect, quite amazing!
The transformation of this young girl which continues today is beyond belief and shows what God's Love in whatever form it comes is amazing. The selfless act of one flows to another and beyond!
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