Cover Image: Godwin


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Member Reviews

An interesting book for me. Really two plots-the search for a potential soccer prodigy in Africa coupled with the dynamic of a group of technical writers working in a cooperative. O’Neill pulls off the impossible when he melds these two disparate story lines together. For me the most interesting part was the world of soccer-an introduction to the true skills needed to play the game and the simultaneous “dirty” understory of agents, middlemen, and exploitation of potential talent. It was a good read and look forward go reading other works by him.

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Despite not knowing much about football I found this to be an engaging, well-written book. The book doesn't focus too much on the sport itself but on the trials and greed involved in recruiting talented players by any means necessary and also touches on workplace drama and academia. There are two (maybe two and half) distinct narrators which keeps the story interesting.

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I loved the beginning of this book, the view from Lakesha, the manager at a business, with her opinions about a work colleague. Then it segued into a story about the work colleague, seeing everything from his point of view. That was a very interesting technique, and definitely made him more sympathetic, but I was just not as interested in his life.

He went on a very twisty, turny journey with different members of his family and other people, and after a while it felt a little repetitive, like I wanted to jump to the end of that part. It felt long but when I look at the page count it is not. I did get more interested when the POV went back to Lakesha. Those kinds of changes and unpredictability in business are interesting to me.

Probably if I was more interested in sports, I would have been more into this whole book. This author is a great writer and I look forward to his future works.

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For fans of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, Godwin offers a departure from sports-centric narratives, delving into the complexities of capitalism and human connection. Mark Wolfe, a grant writer, is drawn into an international adventure by his half-brother Geoff, a soccer scout, as they pursue a talented African player named Godwin. Through their journey, O'Neill exposes the ruthless world of soccer scouting and the moral dilemmas it entails, while also exploring themes of independence and colonialism. Interwoven with Mark's story is that of Lakesha Williams, providing insight into the world of technical writing and the pursuit of stability amidst financial uncertainty. Ultimately, Godwin is a thought-provoking exploration of greed, resilience, and the search for meaning in a globalized world.

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Godwin is an African kid seen playing soccer in a wobbly video that has football coaches desperate to find him, because the talent they see is blowing their heads off. But where is he? Who is he? How to we get to him first?

There are two narrators to "Godwin." The first you. meet is Lakesha, who manages a coop of technical writers, each weird in their own way. Lakesha runs a tight ship .The first crack in the bow comes when one of her writers, Mark Wolfe, acts out and she places him on leave. This leaves Wolfe open to what's to come.

Wolfe is a pretty unmoored guy who only functions if he follows his wife's guidance. Once he goes to England to help out his feckless football agent brother without her common sense . . . oh, boy.

Wolfe stumbles around Africa, and Lakesha is trying to keep rebellious technical writers (visualize that!) employed and stable. Her sense of honesty, fairness, and equity are all challenged. At the same time, Wolfe is banging around Africa with questionable sorts looking for this kid who may or may not be a genius, or even exist. Believe it or not, these two story lines are going to meet. Really.

Although Lakesha (and Cutie) were my favorite characters, there's no way that workplace problems can compete with a barely-hinged guy stumbling around the African bush. "Godwin" comes to a satisfying end, and I was impressed with Joseph O'Neill's ability to tie it all up. I haven't read anything else by him, but I will.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a digital review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Good and fairly straightforward narrative. Smooth writing, yet the drama wasn’t there for me to really engage the story.

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I’m happy to be the first to rate this book on Goodreads. I enjoyed it, as it is well-written and covers a fascinating topic, international football. All that is known of Godwin is that he is an African child who excels at soccer. A grainy video of him playing indicates that he has the potential to be as good as Messi and will almost certainly be a big payoff for whoever discovers him. Geoff, a hapless soccer agent living in England, brings his brother, Mark, into the fray when he comes into possession of the video. Mark, a technical writer married and living in the US with his wife and toddler daughter, sees the potential for excitement in his rather boring life and enlists in the pursuit of Godwin.

This story is told from two POVs – Mark’s and co-worker Lakesha Williams’. It is more than just a tale of international soccer, but soccer is the most interesting part. I got caught up in the drama of finding Godwin and was thoroughly surprised with the twists and turns his story took. The other story line, about Mark and Lakesha’s business dealings, added background to the overall story, but fell well short of the soccer content in terms of interest, at least to me. I haven’t read the author’s previous book, Netherland; this was my first experience with him. I thought he did a terrific job of drawing out the intrigue of Godwin and the ups and downs of his story and I’ll certainly look out for more by him in the future. Recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf, Pantheon and Vintage for access to this e-ARC.

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