Final Table: A Novel

September 1, 2021

A polit­i­cal thriller about sex­u­al mis­con­duct in the #MeToo era, one victim’s bat­tle to sur­vive and over­come trau­ma, and the cable news machine that feeds off tit­il­lat­ing scan­dal cov­er­age and inflam­ma­to­ry con­fronta­tion, Final Table draws upon Dan Schorr’s expe­ri­ence as a New York sex crimes pros­e­cu­tor to tack­le the worlds of polit­i­cal and media dys­func­tion. For­mer White House staffer Mag­gie Raster is strug­gling to build her own con­sult­ing firm and over­come a sex­u­al assault by an ex-boss. Kyler Daw­son, a broke for­mer pok­er cham­pi­on, des­per­ate­ly needs to gain entry into a con­tro­ver­sial inter­na­tion­al pok­er tour­na­ment. The host nation faces wide­spread con­dem­na­tion for the mur­der of a US jour­nal­ist, and a pend­ing pres­i­den­tial exec­u­tive order threat­ens to pro­hibits him from participating.

When Kyler approach­es Mag­gie for assis­tance, she must decide whether to agree – in return for a por­tion of the poten­tial $20 mil­lion prize. To suc­ceed, she will have to con­front sig­nif­i­cant adver­si­ty – per­son­al and polit­i­cal, for­eign and domes­tic– includ­ing mount­ing pres­sure to pub­licly address the mis­con­duct of her for­mer boss. Kyler also has his own obsta­cles to over­come, but if they each can out­ma­neu­ver their daunt­ing chal­lenges, he might win the tour­na­ment – and earn them both a fortune.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Dan Schorr

  1. After Mag­gie is sex­u­al­ly assault­ed by some­one she trusts, she strug­gles with find­ing the best way to respond. If you were her friend and she con­fid­ed in you about what occurred, what would be your advice?

  2. Sev­er­al char­ac­ters in the nov­el are look­ing for some form of jus­tice because of past wrongs that they believe have been com­mit­ted. Whose quest for jus­tice is moral­ly under­stand­able? Does anyone’s tac­tics appear to be unfair? What res­o­lu­tion would be the appro­pri­ate jus­tice” for what Bryce did to Maggie?

  3. Final Table is told from the per­spec­tive of four dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, who view the key events and issues of the nov­el in strik­ing­ly dis­sim­i­lar ways. What is the sig­nif­i­cance of char­ac­ter per­spec­tive in Final Table and how does each person’s view­point impact their actions and how they view the oth­er individuals?

  4. The pok­er scenes involve sev­er­al instances of play­ers try­ing to read oth­er peo­ple, bluff­ing with weak hands, fig­ur­ing out who is try­ing to bluff them, and employ­ing oth­er strate­gies of games­man­ship and manip­u­la­tion. How do these same con­cepts appear in the non-pok­er plot­lines of the book and which char­ac­ters are the most adept at uti­liz­ing them?

  5. Does Kyler have a moral respon­si­bil­i­ty not to play in the Kingdom’s pok­er tour­na­ment? If so, at what point should he have with­drawn, or should he nev­er have agreed to par­tic­i­pate in the first place?

  6. Should Kyler have accept­ed Priya’s offer to drop out of the tour­na­ment in exchange for her sup­port? How did his expe­ri­ence with Nolan impact his deci­sion here?

  7. Mag­gie is a polit­i­cal con­sul­tant who aspires to become a pun­dit on cable TV to help her busi­ness. She final­ly gets offered an appear­ance if she’ll agree to take a posi­tion con­trary to her own beliefs. Is it under­stand­able for her to do this, or should she have refused to par­tic­i­pate in the seg­ment under those circumstances?

  8. What role does social media play in the nar­ra­tive and how does that com­pare to your expe­ri­ences and opin­ions about social media in society?

  9. What is the role of retal­i­a­tion and ret­ri­bu­tion in the nov­el? Whose quest for retal­i­a­tion and/​or ret­ri­bu­tion is jus­ti­fied and how does the fear of retal­i­a­tion shape Maggie’s deci­sions and the behav­ior of oth­er characters?

  10. Does Nolan real­ly deserve half of Kyler’s World Series of Pok­er win­nings? If not, what amount is fair?