Reviews

  • "A modern Graham Greene.... into this relatively quiet period for British fiction, someone remarkable and unexpected has emerged fully armed with a formidable, masterly grip on the British novel. At precisely the point where most novelists start to show signs of flagging, Osborne has hit his creative, fictional stride...and has arrived as a thrilling, exceptional talent in British fiction's landscape."

    Robert Collins, Sunday Times
  • "A perfectly written existential thriller, a spooky, gripping, heart-in-your-mouth read that has profound things to say about the only god who rules human affairs – chance."

    Neel Mukherjee, New Statesman, Books of the Year 2014
  • "Damn. Another writer I have to care about… dark, brilliant and about as ignorable as a switchblade. "

    New York Times
  • "The Ballad of a Small Player shares the exoticism and East-West disconnect of The Quiet American, the unresolved supernaturalism of The Heart of the Matter and Loser Takes All's bittersweet relationship with the gaming tables. If Osborne's book is a love letter to gambling, it's the kind written at 3am to an indifferent ex after an evening at the bar -- an ode to self-destruction. A brisk, electrifying read... the most ambiguous, and therefore the most enjoyable, kind of ghost story. The Ballad of a Small Player remains elusive, and is all the better for that."

    Adrian Turpin, Literary Review
  • "Hypnotic, razor-sharp in its insights, compelling... in Osborne's hands, the moments of suspense are handled with so much skill that we sometimes read them more as memoir than elements of a thriller."

    Tash Aw, NPR
  • "A searing portrait of addiction and despair set in the glittering world of Macau’s casinos.... the novel’s energetic portrait of the highs and lows of a gambler’s fortunes are as good as anything in the literature of addiction. Osborne’s intriguing Chinese milieu and exquisite prose mark this work as a standout."

    Starred review, Publisher's Weekly
  • "With its ex-pat angst and debauched air of moral ambiguity set amid the sinister demi-monde of the Far East’s corrupt gambling dens, Osborne’s darkly introspective study of decline and decay conjures apt comparisons to Paul Bowles, Graham Greene, and V. S. Naipaul."

    Booklist
  • "The beauty of this novel is in the elegance and precision of its prose, which renders the glaring kitsch of Macau into a series of exquisite miniatures, and draws on Osborne's reserves as a travel writer."

    Gerard Woodward, Guardian
  • "Lawrence Osborne’s latest will leave you breathless… [It] will screw up your guts with anxiety, fill you with hope and then kick you hard in the b****cks all in one well-weighted read. No need to gamble -- it's an absolute winner of a book."

    Jon Wise, Weekend Sport
  • "A brisk, electrifying read, as elegant in negotiating the rackety world it depicts as its bow-tied narrator"

    Rachel Cooke, Observer