Professor Matthew Salesses' New Novel Out Now

Jessie Shohfi
January 18, 2023

The Sense of Wonder, the latest novel by Assistant Professor Matthew Salesses, is out now from Little, Brown.

Inspired by “Linsanity,” the 2011 NBA phenomenon provoked by the success of player Jeremy Lin, The Sense of Wonder follows its own basketball star, Won Lee, as he stuns the world with a seven-game winning streak. Won’s success is sudden and not uncomplicated, as he deals with the heightened attention and at the same time his desire for connection. Other plotlines follow Robert Sung, a disappointed player turned sports reporter, and Carrie Kang, a producer attempting to bring K-drama to an unwilling American audience. 

Salesses spoke to Houston Public Media about his reaction to “Linsanity,” saying, “It felt like the world was opening its doors for the first time. I’d never seen an Asian American basketball player in the pros before. It was this wonderful two weeks where anything felt possible. I remembered that feeling, and…when I started this book, I really wanted to write about that feeling of possibilities, that feeling of wonder.” 

He continued by speaking about the backlash to the obsession, saying, “Those things that happened, the blowback–especially after the first loss–all of that seems like things we always have to deal with, [that] are always trying to creep in on the wonder…That’s the reality we have to live with, and trying to protect that sense of wonder is a really important thing to me, and a way that people of color often have to survive in this world. I wanted to tell that story too, not just the fun of the two weeks of winning but the come-down afterwards.”

The Sense of Wonder is already receiving a wealth of critical attention, appearing on the “Most Anticipated” lists from USA Today, Salon, The Los Angeles Times, Vulture, and many others. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly calls the novel “a brilliant and scathing chronicle,” saying, “Salesses fills the page with all the bold, kinetic confidence of an athlete striding onto the court.”

Salesses will promote his novel at this month’s Squawkin’ Sports Party, an ongoing series in partnership with Greenlight Books, which features “book chats with grown-up authors writing about grown-ups playing kiddie games.” The interview (and party) is hosted by writers Patrick Sauer and David J. Roth, and will take place at Die Stammkneipe in Brooklyn on January 26. Tickets for the event are available online

The Sense of Wonder is available for purchase here

Matthew Salesses is the author of seven books, including the national bestseller Craft in the Real World, which was named a Best Book of 2021 by NPR, Esquire, Library Journal, Independent Book Review, the Chicago Tribune, Electric Literature, and others. His last novel, Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear (2020), was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Award. His memoir-in-essays, To Grieve Is to Carry Another Time is forthcoming from Little, Brown in 2024. The title essay appeared in Best American Essays 2020.

In 2015, Buzzfeed named Matthew one of 32 Essential Asian American Writers. He was adopted from Korea and has written about adoption, race, and grief for venues such as NPR's Code Switch, The New York Times Motherlode, and The Guardian, among others. His short fiction can be found in Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Flash Fiction America (2023), Witness, and elsewhere.