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About the book
  • Published: 5 September 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448163274
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong

Formats & editions


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.

  • Pub date: 5 September 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448163274
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

About the Author

Guido Mina di Sospiro

Guido Mina di Sospiro has been fascinated by table tennis since childhood and regularly plays competitively. Raised in Milan in a multilingual home, he trained as a classical
guitarist before leaving Italy after university to attend USC’s School of Cinema Production. He then became a journalist and correspondent from Los Angeles on the movie and music industries for one German and two Italian magazines. He has written three books that have been published around the world and maintains a blog on the New York-based web-magazine Reality Sandwich and on the alternative views website Disinformation. Mina di Sospiro lives in the Washington D.C. area with his wife and their three sons.

Praise for The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong

“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

“Erudite, experimental and engaging, Mina di Sospiro has given us a work that breaks new ground in sports writing. Whether or not you ever pick up a paddle, The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong provides an initiation into a visionary life, igniting the fires of inspiration through an intriguing intimacy with the mysteries of daily life that is available nowhere else”

David Metcalfe, Daily Grail

“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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