John Grisham’s new book “Sooley” may be his 36th novel – and his 45th book in all – but it’s his first about basketball. The novel, which comes out April 27, tells the story of Samuel Sooleymon, a South Sudanese teen who comes to the United States to play college ball and hopes to make it to the NBA so he can help the family he left behind. The book is not a thriller, but it shows Grisham’s passion for a sport he’s loved since his days playing on his high school team in Mississippi.
In a phone interview, Grisham, a season ticket-holder for the Virginia men’s and North Carolina women’s basketball teams, was happy to gush about the Cavaliers’ 2019 national championship but reluctant to talk about the previous year, when the team became the first – and only – No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in NCAA tournament history. He was, however, happy to discuss other matters: “Sooley,” why he loves basketball but not my alma mater’s team – and more.