The Queen of Katwe

A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl

The Queen of Katwe

Read by: Robin Miles
Based on a popular ESPN Magazine article—optioned by Disney films, a finalist for a National Magazine Award and chosen by Dave Eggers for inclusion in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011—the astonishing true story of Phiona Mutesi, a teenager from the slums of Kampala, Uganda, who—inspired by an unlikely mentor, a war refugee turned missionary—becomes an international chess champion.

Phiona Mutesi sleeps in a decrepit shack with her mother and four siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been in and out of school her whole life because her mother cannot afford it, so she is only now learning to read and write. Phiona Mutesi is also one of the best chess players in the world.
     One day in 2005, while searching for food, nine-year-old Phiona followed her brother to a dusty veranda where she met Robert Katende, another child of the Ugandan slums, who works for an American organization that offers relief and religion through sports. Robert introduced Phiona to the game of chess and soon recognized her immense talent. By the age of eleven Phiona was her country’s junior chess champion and at fifteen, her country’s national champion. In September of 2010 she traveled to Siberia, just her second time ever on an airplane, to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team chess event.
     Phiona’s dream is to one day become a grandmaster, the most elite title in chess, and to blaze a trail out of Katwe that other children in Robert’s chess community can follow. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday life in one of the world’s most unstable countries, a place where girls are taught to be mothers, not dreamers, and the threats of AIDS, kidnapping, and starvation loom over the people of Katwe.
     Acclaimed sports journalist Tim Crothers has written a riveting and inspiring account of one girl’s improbable journey to becoming a chess champion. The Queen of Katwe will thrill every listener who loves a great underdog story.
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9781442356115 | 
  • October 2012
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Video

Queen of Katwe Trailer

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, directed by Mira Nair. The “astonishing” (The New York Times Book Review) and “inspirational” (Shelf Awareness) true story of Phiona Mutesi—a teenage chess prodigy from the slums of Uganda.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Queen of Katwe includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Phiona Mutesi had never seen a chessboard. Her home was a decrepit shack in the slums of Kampala, Uganda. At nine years old, she was barely literate, a school dropout who spent her days wandering through the Katwe slum selling boiled maize and hoping she could find a single meal to eat each day. Then she met Robert Katende, a local missionary working for Sports Outreach, an American relief organization. Under Katende’s tutelage, Phiona slowly learned to play chess. She gradually mastered how to strategize, how to defend her pieces, and finally she learned how to win. She won game after game, against boys, against adults, against renowned players, until it became clear that she possessed a true gift for chess. Through a series of unlikely sponsorships and miraculous coincidences, Phiona was able to begin competing and winning in tournaments around the globe. Despite all odds and countless life-threatening obstacles in Katwe, Phiona is now one of the world’s best chess players. Her journey is one that will leave you inspired by the strength and see more

About the Author

Tim Crothers
Courtesy of the author

Tim Crothers

Tim Crothers is a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He is the author of The Queen of Katwe: One Girl’s Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion and The Man Watching, the biography of University of North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance, and coauthor of Hard Work, the autobiography of UNC basketball coach Roy Williams. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and two children.

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