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LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK AWARD 2013 Ping-pong: not just a sport for teenagers, ferociously talented Chinese players and East London hipsters – it seems that spinning plastic ball can teach us a great deal about life and the world we live in...


To spin or not to spin? – that is the metaphysical question.

When a mortifying defeat to his teenage son rekindles his lifelong passion for table tennis, keen philosopher Guido Mina di Sospiro sets out to learn the game properly.

Guido’s love for spinning a feather-weight ball takes him from his local ping-pong club, populated by idiosyncratic players with extraordinary stories to tell, to training drills with a world-class coach. This seemingly harmless game also leads him into sticky situations in the CIA headquarters and the ganglands of Washington, D.C. Woven throughout his ping-pong epiphany are philosophical ruminations on Plato and Aristotle, metaphysicians and empiricists, Jung’s dark shadow, Sun Tzu’s war tactics, the I Ching, and much more.

As Guido’s journey takes him from Big Sur to a nail-biting showdown in China against a string of elite players, he finds ping-pong can teach us a surprising amount about life.


Like nothing I’ve ever read and all the more wonderful because of it, this is a non-fiction masterpiece which deserves a position on the sports writing podium

Ben Keenan, Press Association Syndication

Fast-footed, inspiring book about winning the inner game of life in sport

Iain Finlayson, The Times

An enthralling guide to the mystery, mastery and practice of ping-pong

Eric Idle


Publishers Weekly

Love the title of this book… Surely a must-buy for that fellow whiff-whaff nut and intellectual Boris Johnson

Richard Brooks, Sunday Times

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    September 15, 2013

    Yellow Jersey

    240 pages

    RRP $36.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    September 5, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    240 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ


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