Walter Tevis

Walter Tevis was born in San Francisco in 1928 and lived in the Sunset District, close to Golden Gate Park and the sea, for the first ten years of his life. At the age of ten his parents placed him in the Stanford Children’s Convalescent Home for a year, during which time they returned to Kentucky, where the Tevis family had been given an early grant of land in Madison County. Walter traveled across country alone by train at the age of eleven to rejoin his family and felt the shock of entering Appalachian culture when he enrolled in the local school. He made friends with Toby Kavanaugh, a fellow student at the Lexington high school, and learned to shoot pool on the table of the recreation room in the Kavanaugh mansion, and to read science fiction books for the first time in Toby’s small library. They remained lifelong friends, and Toby grew up to become the owner of a pool room in Lexington.

At the age of seventeen, Walter became a carpenter’s mate in the Navy, serving on board the USS Hamil in Okinawa. After his discharge, he studied at the University of Kentucky where he received B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature and studied with Abe Guthrie, author of The Big Sky. Upon graduation he taught everything from the sciences and English to physical education in small-town Kentucky high schools. At that time he began writing short stories, which were published in the Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Playboy. He wrote his first novel, The Hustler, which was published in 1959, and followed that with The Man Who Fell to Earth, which was published in 1963. He taught English literature and creative writing at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio for fourteen years, where he was a distinguished professor, and left that post in 1978 to come to New York and resume writing. He wrote four more novels—Mockingbird, The Steps of the Sun, The Queen’s Gambit and The Color of Money—and a collection of short stories, Far From Home. He died of lung cancer in 1984. His books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, Greek, Slovak, Serbo-Croatian, Israeli, Turkish, Japanese, and Thai.

Featured Books By Author

The Hustler

To Fast Eddie Felsen, a young pool hustler, there was only one thing that mattered: to make the big time and the big money in the world of pool by beating the best in the country.


Hustling suckers in small towns for good stake money was practice for his goal, and when he felt ready he went to Bennington’s pool hall in Chicago to find Minnesota Fats. Eddie and Fats pit nerve against skill in a fantastic match over an unbroken thirty-six hours. Eddie’s final painful loss teaches him that nerve alone isn’t enough—guts, stamina, and character make the difference between winners and losers.


It takes an interlude with Sarah, an alcoholic and a born loser, to bring the lesson home, and the shrewd advice and backing of Bert, a professional gambler, to put it into practice. Bert knows talent without character is nothing and stakes Eddie to a climactic all-or-nothing rematch. When it is over, Eddie knows a great deal more about big-time pool, about money, and about himself. In beating Fats he became the best in the country.


"A fine, swift, wanton, offbeat novel."
The New York Times


The basis for a major motion picture starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, this landmark novel packs plenty of action, romance, and suspense.

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The Queen's Gambit

Beth Harmon becomes an orphan when her parents are killed in an automobile accident. At eight years old, she is placed in an orphanage in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, where the children are given tranquilizers twice a day. Plain and shy, she learns to play chess from the janitor in the basement and discovers she is a chess genius. Penniless and desperate to learn more, she steals a chess magazine and enough money to enter a chess tournament. She also steals some of her foster mother’s tranquilizers to which she is becoming addicted. At thirteen she wins the Chess Tournament. By the age of sixteen she is competing in the U.S. Open Championship and, like Fast Eddie, she hates to lose. By eighteen she is the U.S. Champion. Then she goes to Russia to face the Russians….


Fast-paced and elegantly written, The Queen’s Gambit is a thriller masquerading as a chess novel—one that’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.


"The Queen’s Gambit is sheer entertainment. It is a book I reread every few years—for the pure pleasure and skill of it."
Michael Ondaatje

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The Steps of the Sun

In a world where America’s power is rapidly being overshadowed by China’s, only one man has the wealth, resources, and courage to seek the mineral resources his country needs to reclaim its greatness. Ben Belson, the richest man in the world, lacks for nothing his wealth can buy—but he is haunted by the memory of a barren and loveless childhood. When he travels to the stars in search of the mineral wealth America needs, he finds more than he bargains for—and gets more than he ever believed was possible.


A classic science fiction novel by the author of The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hustler, The Steps of the Sun is deftly written, richly characterized, and full of surprises.


"Engaging and effortlessly readable."
Publishers Weekly

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Books By
Walter Tevis