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The Queen of Katwe

a story of life, chess, and one extraordinary girl’s dream of becoming a grandmaster

The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers
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Based on ‘The Queen of Katwe’, a finalist for a National Magazine Award and included in Dave Eggers’ The Best American Nonrequired Reading, this is the true story of a female prodigy from the Ugandan slum of Katwe

Phiona Mutesi sleeps in a mud hut with her mother and siblings, and struggles to find a meal each day. She 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 verandah where she met Robert Katende, a refugee who had also grown up in the slums. Robert had an improbable aspiration: to empower Katwe’s kids through chess — a game so foreign that there was no word for it in their native language. Robert taught the game each day. At first the children came for the free porridge, but many grew to love chess, a game that — as in their daily lives — meant navigating obstacles. One talented young girl stood out: Phiona.

By the age of 11, Phiona was Uganda’s junior champion; at 15, she was the national champion. In 2010, she travelled to Siberia to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team-chess event. Phiona’s dream is to become a chess grandmaster. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with 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 constantly.

Like Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, this is an intimate and heart-rending portrait of human life on the urban fringes in the 21st century.


‘Powerfully captures the crushing poverty in which Mutesi and her family still live.’ The Age

‘Almost too uplifting to believe … Crothers tells Phiona Mutesi’s story in a crisp, reportorial style, but it’s nearly impossible to read without a strong emotional response … Inspiring.’ Booklist

Scribe Publications Pty Ltd; October 2012
ISBN 9781921942983
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: The Queen of Katwe
Author: Tim Crothers
  • News
'Queen of Katwe' to premiere Friday in Arizona City, Sedona - Kawowo Sports
Tue, 22 Nov 2016 05:02:09 -0800
Kawowo Sports'Queen of Katwe' to premiere Friday in Arizona City, SedonaKawowo SportsThe film, directed by Mira Nair, ...
Mira Nair, Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo on new Disney film 'Queen of Katwe' - SBS
Thu, 24 Nov 2016 19:01:26 -0800
SBSMira Nair, Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo on new Disney film 'Queen of Katwe'SBSQueen of Katwe, based on Tim ...
Queen of Katwe fails to reign - The Standard (press release)
Wed, 09 Nov 2016 20:41:15 -0800
The Standard (press release)Queen of Katwe fails to reignThe Standard (press release)“The sport that the movie revolves around, ...

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