Genre: Fiction
Published: 1 November 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury


by Tom Campbell

Five friends. One year. All bets are off. Reading, 2009. It may not be Vegas, but for Nick, Doug, Vijay, Alan and Simon, it’s as good as they’re going to get. Each in their forties, and beset by anxieties, flaws and frustrations, they meet monthly in each other’s houses for a ‘friendly’ game of poker, enabling Doug to show off his new-minted wealth, Simon to insist on serving only red wine and goats’ cheese and Nick – swimming in a cocktail of envy, fear, bravado and disappointment – to make increasingly desperate attempts to bring an end to his interminable losing streak. While Vijay meticulously records every win and loss on his spreadsheet, and Alan frets about his propensity to break into sweat and his inability to get his wife pregnant, Nick becomes obsessed with the idea of engineering Doug’s downfall: Doug, who with his big house, his successful business and his appalling taste is both everything that Nick aspires to and resents. Convinced of the heroic nature of his task, he aims to triumph over Doug in poker, as well as in life, and in doing so he comes into troubling proximity to Sophia, Doug’s clever and beautiful wife …

"Campbell makes you want to read the next page. It's as simple as that... what it is good at being is a book... It is very good on the sub-surface: its perspectives rotate, like the dealership round a card table. It has the courage to be unpleasant about its characters, and the heart to challenge that unpleasantness. It is, in fact, cleverer than it lets on." - Nicholas Lezard, 'Book of the Week', Guardian
"…you need know nothing about cards to relish the scabrous black comedy of… Tom Campbell’s scintillating debut novel… The pages of lean, measured prose ping with telling bons mots and, as the stakes are raised, the ruthless gamesmanship involving drugs and indecent exposure defies you not to laught out loud" - Metro
"...the book is so warm it makes such evenings quite appealing, however bizarre the events and motivations they may hide...You find in the end a Tony Parsonsesque bittersweetness, with an authoritative look at these fortysomethings." - John Lloyd, The Bookbag
"FOLD is fresh, blackly funny and aimed unashamedly at us blokes... Leading their "lives of quiet desperation", one of the group - unlucky, bitter, a loser - decides he will bring down the alpha male. The result, not at all obvious, and nicely ambiguous, has consequences for everyone as they decide whether to raise...or fold. Definitely an author to watch. Oh, and a great cover!"
- Mark Thornton, Mostly Books Blog
"...a tale of friendship and rivalry, jokers and kings, but more alarmingly it reads as a hilarious expose of the insane levels of competition between blokes." - Imogen Lycett Green, Daily Mail
"Campbell's comic brio and his insights into Nick's nostalgia as he sits adrift in a world of consultants, dreaming about the old days of travelling salesmen ... go a long way in entertaining the reader." - Daniel Jeffreys, Times Literary Supplement

Other Books by Tom Campbell