A Philosophical Examination of Play in Literature

“Reading Games is a subtle, provocative, intellectually invigorating study of the ludic impulse in literature. Thoughtful, carefully researched, and mobile in its strategy, this book argues for a reconfigured vision of literature, one based on an ethics of writerly and readerly gesture…The kind of play that Reading Games describes is both free and uncorrupted; it is refreshingly dialogical, clearing away a site for interaction and articulation within the text; most importantly perhaps, it encourages us to ‘see otherly.’”             –Warren Motte                                                                                

“We all know there’s more to games than fun. Bohman-Kalaja’s remarkable study of O’Brien, Beckett and Perec is the first to get to grips with the deeper issues involved of the ludic practices of these post-modern masters. It also teaches us a great deal about what kind of games can be played with and through words. Learned, illuminating, original and profound, this is a study that should transform the teaching of modern literature – and bring back some of the fun!”   
–David Bellos     

It was the historian Johan Huizinga who first elaborated a theory of play. Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Roger Caillois and other luminaries have also been drawn to the subject. Now, Kimberly Bohman-Kalaja has applied play-theory to the words of three authors – Flann O’Brien, Samuel Beckett and Georges Perec – with illuminating, sometimes startling results.  –Anthony Cronin 


Associate Professor of Literature & The Humanities (online) California State University, Dominguez Hill, 2005-2019

Associate Lecturer, Writing Program New York University 2006-2013

Lecturer in Comparative Literature, French, Film, & Gender Studies Princeton University 1995-2005

KENNEDY CENTER 2019 ​Playwriting Workshop:  “Making Something out of Nothing: Foolproof methods for stimulating ideas” 


Kimberly earned her BA in English at Scripps College (Phi Beta Kappa), her MA in Irish Literature from Queen’s University of Belfast, and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton. In addition to serving on the faculty of leading universities, she has worked with incarcerated students for over 15 years.