"On Snooker" is a brilliant, witty, and compact look at the game of snooker -- past and present -- by one of the world's great novelists. It takes a close look at the odd origins of the game, born the illegitimate child of billiards on a British Indian Army base in the nineteenth century and in 1985 attracting 18.5 million television viewers who stayed up past midnight to watch the World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield, England.
The central figure of the book is Stephen Hendry, probably the most talented snooker player ever, who recently sought a record-breaking eighth world title. But "On Snooker" also explores the game's other fascinating characters, from Alex Higgins, Cliff Thorburn (a Canadian and the first nonBrit to win the title), Kirk Stevens, and Jimmy White to Ronnie O'Sullivan. Young O'Sullivan, perhaps the game's most gifted natural talent, is a troubled man; his father, a former porn dealer ("Ron's the name, porn's the game") is serving a life sentence for murder. In addition, Richler visits the craftsman who makes cues for the champions and interviews the agents and groupies who follow the players on the circuit.
The fascinating world of snooker has never been explored with such pith and perception. Like Joyce Carol Oates's book on boxing, "On Snooker" is a book all lovers of sport and superb sports writing will cherish.