Michael J. Agovino is the author of "The Bookmaker: A Memoir of Money, Luck, and Family From the Utopian Outskirts of New York City" (HarperCollins, 2008) and "The Soccer Diaries: An American's Thirty-Year Pursuit of the International Game" (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). He has written for The New York Times, Esquire, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Pitchfork, GQ, The New Republic, The New York Observer, The Wall Street Journal, Elle, Best American Sports Writing, and many others.
He was on staff at Esquire magazine for eight years, the Deputy Editor of Newsweek's web site for three years, and for two years, from 2016-2018, he was a Contributing Writer for The Village Voice.
In “The Bookmaker,” The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Mr. Agovino has crafted a sensitive and engrossing memoir....All of the characters in The Bookmaker are extraordinarily vivid, thanks in part to the author's uncanny ear for the accents and cadences of New Yorkers of every stripe.” The Washington Post wrote: “Agovino brings a gift for capturing urban sounds and symbols and a keen sense of shifting social status to his memoir of growing up in the Bronx,” while The New York Times said it was “a charming, evocative memoir about growing up a generation ago in Co-op City, the Bronx....‘The Bookmaker’ is delightfully ironic...an engaging story.” The book was also favorably featured on The Today Show, in New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, The Brooklyn Rail, The New York Post, Kirkus, and many others.
“The Soccer Diaries" was described by Esquire Magazine as “funny and affecting” and the novelist Colum McCann wrote that it was “intimate and wonderfully written” while the writer Hampton Sides said that it was a “delightful, briskly readable memoir of sports obsession that deftly cuts across decades and cultures.” The book was also featured on BBC America with Katty Kay on PBS and many other U.S. and international media outlets. Booklist wrote: “Agovino clearly wants to make his own contribution to the canon, and now he has one, a thoughtful and enjoyable narrative of his passion for the game.”
Michael was born and raised in New York City and is a graduate of N.Y.U.
A look at the movie "Miles Ahead," and Miles Davis as a great cultural figure and fashion icon
A review of the book "Playing the Numbers: Gambling In Harlem Between the Wars" (Harvard University Press).
How does a jazz musician make it in New York now?
In March 2003, I wrote this strongly-worded opinion piece against the invasion of Iraq for Newsweek's website, where I was Deputy Editor at the time. Let's just say this didn't win me any friends. Few in the media, even the liberal media, were saying this publicly—in fact, the media's role was shameful.
A Gil Scott-Heron Playlist
Reprinted in the anthology "Conversations With Albert Murray" (University of Mississippi Press, 1997)
A profile of the artist and photographer. From the December 2013 issue
I spent four years trying to get my book optioned for a movie. All I got were two Belgian waffles
A look back at the incredible career of the bandleader, singer, songwriter, and arranger of one of the most influential bands of the 1970s
This scintillating collection, featuring great writing by Don DeLillo and many others, gives this stereotyped ethnic group its intellectual props.
The new "savior of jazz" rocks a famed dance club
As Thursday brings us the the 20th installment of the World Cup, we look back on writer Michael J. Agovino's personal history from Issue 43, Games We Play
A first-person essay about growing up in The Bronx, New York, in the 1970s/80s that also weaves in cultural criticism. From the LARB Quarterly Journal, Spring 2016 print edition
Twenty-five years ago, 39 fans, mostly Italian, were killed at the European Cup Final in Brussels' Heysel Stadium
My picks for the best in jazz 2019. And my short ditty on the #8 album.
These are my liner notes to "Channels," a new album by Stephan Crump, Ingrid Laubrock, and Cory Smythe.
These are my picks for NPR's 2018 Jazz Critics Poll.
In this episode of Beyond The Pitch, Juan is joined by the great Michael Agovino, a freelance writer who came in to talk about the paperback edition of his book "The Soccer Diaries."
I, and my book, are featured on this hour-long podcast.
"When I first heard Charlie Parker - - that record frightened me. It frightened me, and it was the most exciting music I'd ever heard..." Those were musician and composer Anthony Braxton's words in a 1988 biography about him, Forces in Motion, by Graham Lock.
A look back at Val Wilmer's 1977 book "As Serious As Your Life," just re-published in the U.K.
These are my picks for best albums in NPR's Jazz Critics Poll.
In his 2006 memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn , the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka posed this simple question about his countryman, and first cousin, Fela Kuti, the larger-than-life Nigerian bandleader: "How would one summarize Fela?"
A review of "A City Seen: Todd Webb's Postwar New York, 1945–1960" at the Museum of the City of New York.
A look The Metropolitan Museum of Art's retrospective of the photographer's work.
Monk's soundtrack to the Roger Vadim film had been lost. Until now.
A look back at Ahmad Jamal's influential 1970 album.
A review of three re-issues by the Brazilian singer-songwriter from the early 1970s.
A review of the debut album of Cameron Graves.
A look at small independent jazz record labels in New York City.
A review of Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, DOC NYC's closing night film.
A review of the latest volume in Columbia Legacy's Miles Davis Bootleg Series.
On the saxophonist/composer's new album, a collaboration with musicians from New York, Paris, and Dakar.
I wrote on three of the top 200 songs of the 1970s, according to Pitchfork: Gil Scott-Heron; Donny Hathaway; and Hall & Oates.
The Living Colour drummer plays the music of Elvin Jones
A founder of Weather Report coaxes new sounds from old music
A review of "God Is Round," a soccer book by Mexican intellectual Juan Villoro
On "The Case of the Three-Sided Dream," a documentary on Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Robert Glasper reimagines the Prince of Darkness
Since appearing on David Bowie's haunting final album Backstar, the unassuming tenor saxophonist may finally be going above ground
A review of a new vinyl set of early to mid-1950s recordings
There's so much more to Miles Davis than his best-known album
His albums post-comeback have a lot going for them. Here's a recap.
The legacy of John Coltrane's most-celebrated work
An appreciation of a giant of American music
The youngest talent of the illustrious cinematic family
A close-up look at Mosaic Records, the select reissue label, and its co-founder Michael Cuscuna
A look at the pianist's extraordinary career through this 36-CD box set "The Complete Columbia Album Collection, 1972 – 1988" (Note: scroll down to bottom to read full review.)
A profile of Gregory Porter
A grand American label has a major anniversary
New York City
A consideration of Bobbito Garcia's new documentary
An NYU graduate looks back—and forward
Tour guide Maurice Valentine alters the public's perception of the Bronx, one van ride at a time.
A writer's account of a decade on the mean streets
A canoe ride down the unloved Bronx River
Italy & Switzerland
The characters in 'The Great Beauty' might be empty on the inside, but they do know how to dress
Italians, like most Europeans, are especially attached to their regions. Nowhere is this regionalism more apparent than in their kitchens. Sicily is no different
Gianni Amelio's New Film May Herald an Italian Cinematic Renaissance
Norman Foster helps to spruce up one of the world's illustrious hotels
A guide to a city that goes beyond cliche.
An eight-foot tower of rusted shipping containers rises in Zurich's industrial quarter
A guide to central Switzerland's gem
The SBB, Switzerland's national rail, has a famous clock. It's also a watch
A Swiss messenger bag gets noticed on New York City streets—and the Museum of Modern Art
Soccer in the Shadow of FIFA. (This essay appeared in issue No. 3 and received honorable mention in the anthology Best American Sports Writing 2014.)
With immigrant stars, Die Nati has come to symbolize a new Switzerland
Fashion & Style
A beloved sneaker brand makes a comeback
It's not just for society functions anymore
Where jeans go for a second life
More Film & Books
A round-up of five 2006 novels.
A documentarian looks at Fellini's life, art and lies
In their new film, the Dardenne brothers turn tragedy to hope
Nanni Moretti's latest film is different from his previous work because he's different
Raoul Peck's gripping portrayal of Congo's first elected leader
And Ryszard Kapuscinski's other hair-raising African adventures
An interview with Mario Vargas Llosa
Two bold films prove that one of the world's fertile grounds for cinema is moving forward
A look at the World Cup on Page 1 of the Sunday New York Times Week In Review section.
Will U.S. ownership of A.S. Roma be a good thing?
Adidas brings back a jacket from the fabled 1974 Dutch team
A review of "The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup."
A South Korean and a North Korean come together on a team in neutral Switzerland
A journey into The Den in South London to watch England's most notorious club
Pro football has taken a public relations hit, but soccer fans shouldn't forget its sport's past—and present
The most American of holidays has also been a day of some of international soccer’s greatest moments
Today, Premier League clubs playing around the U.S. epitomize the globalized game. But a book celebrating its 25th anniversary remembers when it wasn’t so friendly
Remembering (and celebrating) S.I.N., the Spanish International Network
A look back at G'olé!, the official film of the 1982 World Cup
Why it's time for Americans to emancipate themselves from the dulling influence of English "football" in this country
The four-year wait for soccer fans is finally over
The coach they call "El Loco"