24 for 3

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"The Rules of Play" redirects here. For the book on game design by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, see Rules of Play.
24 for 3
First edition
Author 'Jennie Walker'
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher CB Editions/Bloomsbury (UK)
Soho Press (US)
Publication date
2007 (UK), 2010 (US)
Media type Print & eBook
Pages 128
Awards McKitterick Prize
ISBN 0-9557285-0-9
LC Class PR6052.O9196 A12 2008

24 for 3 is a 2007 novella by Jennie Walker (a pen name of English poet Charles Boyle); it won the 2008 McKitterick Prize.[1] (awarded to authors over 40 for their first novel) and was selected by Karl Miller of the Times Literary Supplement as one of his books of the year in 2008.[2]

Title and setting[edit]

The title comes from England's second innings score at the start of the final day of a Test cricket match against India, which forms the backdrop to the story; each of the chapters is set on one day of the five-day match; from Friday through to Tuesday.

Author identity[edit]

It was only at the Society of Authors awards ceremony in June 2008 that most people realised that the author was in fact a man: 'Many initially assumed Boyle must be Walker's agent when he walked up to accept the £4,000 McMitterick Prize'.[3]

Plot introduction[edit]

A woman whose life is split between her lover (a loss adjuster) and husband worries about the whereabouts of her teenage son and wonders about the rules of cricket. Her husband draws elaborate diagrams of fielding positions, in contrast her lover prefers mystery. As the woman becomes more intrigued by the game she draws parallels between the characters in her life and the strategies of the game...


  • Nicholas Lezard writing in The Guardian closed with "This is a little marvel of a novella. It's funny, clever, illuminating, deeply kind-hearted, and doesn't outstay its welcome".[4] The author regarded this early review as 'a breakthrough'.[5]
  • Lionel Shriver in The Daily Telegraph also praises it saying "24 for 3 is written with a beguiling simplicity, and the small wisdoms it offers up are readily accessible to readers who have never been able to make head or tail of cricket. Its clarity and musing tone perfectly suit a rainy afternoon".[6]

Publication history[edit]

The author, frustrated at his inability to find a publisher, set up his own publishing house CB Editions to get it in to print,[7] using the proceeds of an uncle's will to fund it.[8] After receiving positive reviews the book then gained the backing of Bloomsbury Publishing who published it with a quote on the cover from Mick Jagger saying that he 'loved it'.[9] It was published under the title The Rules of Play in the US by Soho Press in 2010.[10]


External links[edit]