John Grisham’s ‘Sooley’ — story of a South Sudanese basketball player trying to save his family from civil war

I always keep an eye out for John Grisham’s newest books as my dad is a huge fan, and I like to grab him a copy as soon as Grisham’s latest novel is out.

John Grisham’s ‘Sooley‘ publishes on the 27th April, 2021, and is the latest in a long line of novels (more than 30) the Arkansas native has written in the last 30-odd years. Books that have made him more successful than he ever was as a lawyer and richer, if the truth be known.

Sooley‘, however, is quite a bit different than anything Grisham has published before.

In that he looks at the devastation of the civil war in South Sudan through the eyes of a young basketball player currently stuck in America, while his family is dealing with the ravages of the war back home.



The plot of John Grisham’s ‘Sooley

According to Grisham’s publisher Penguin Random House, this is the plot of ‘Sooley‘:

“In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true.

Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed.

During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp. Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it’s just not possible.

Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn’t immediately needed.

But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he’s dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins.

But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family?”

John Grisham’s ‘Sooley’ will be available in hardback, paperback, on audio CD and on Kindle on April 27th. Pre-order now.

And, if you want to know how Grisham has been able to write as many books as he has, watch the Penguin Random House video below about John Grisham’s regimented writing schedule and you’ll understand.


Because few people are that precise when it comes to writing a novel.


Michelle Topham