A New York Times top 100 Notable Book of the Year** Alexander Bruno is a man with expensive problems. Sporting a tuxedo and trotting the globe, he has spent his adult life as a professional gambler. His particular line of work: backgammon, at which he extracts large sums of money from men who think they can challenge his peerless acumen. In Singapore, his luck turned. Maybe it had something to do with the Blot - a black spot which has emerged to distort Bruno's vision. It's not showing any signs of going away. As Bruno extends his losing streak in Berlin, it becomes clinically clear that the Blot is the symptom of something terrible. There's a surgeon who can help, but surgery is going to involve a lot of money, and worse: returning home to the garish, hash-smoke streets of Berkeley, California. Here, the unseemly Keith Stolarsky - a childhood friend in possession of an empire of themed burger bars and thrift stores - is king. And he's willing to help Bruno out. But there was always going to be a price.