On History, Home, and Basketball

Andrew Malan Milward

Wars ravage Iraq and Afghanistan. An earthquake devastates Haiti. The economy is in crisis and America is in the death grip of partisan politics. But what really, really gets you down? Your college basketball team loses a key game. It kind of makes a person wonder—first, of course, about his priorities, but then, inevitably, about the nature of such an obsession, one clearly shared with millions of sports fans spanning the United States. In a book that begins with one fan’s passion for a game, Andrew Malan Milward takes a deep dive into sports culture, team loyalty, and a shared sense of belonging—and what these have to do with character, home, and history.

At the University of Kansas—where the inventor of the sport coached its first team—basketball is a religion, and Milward is a devoted follower with a faith that has grown despite time and distance. Jayhawker, his first venture into nonfiction, bears the marks of the accomplished storyteller. Sharply observed, deftly written, and often as dramatic as its subject, the book pairs personal memoir with cultural history to conduct us from the world of the athlete to the literary life, from competition to camaraderie, from the history of the game to the game as a reflection of American history at its darkest hour and in its shining moments. A journey through one man’s obsession with basketball, Jayhawker: On History, Home, and Basketball tells a quintessential American story.

“Andrew Malan Milward brings a creative writer’s touch to two subjects—basketball and Kansas history—close to the heart of all Jayhawks. Now I know why every KU win feels like a birthright, and every loss like the sacking of Lawrence.”

—Robert Rebein, author of Headlights on the Prairie: Essays on Home

About the Author

Andrew Malan Milward was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the author of two short story collections, The Agriculture Hall of Fame and I Was a Revolutionary. His fiction has appeared in many venues, including Zoetrope, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, Guernica, and Best New American Voices and has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award. He is an assistant professor of English at the University of Kentucky.